Elkhart man drives off with bouncer’s car at Edwardsburg bar

Published 6:42 am Monday, January 12, 2009

By By NORMA LERNER / Dowagiac Daily News
CASSOPOLIS – An Elkhart, Ind., man who had too much to drink and helped himself to a car after leaving an Edwardsburg bar will spend the next two years on probation.
Justin Miller, 22, of 26553 Fields Farm, lost his job and on Nov. 13 he started to drink.
He went to an adult entertainment bar in Edwardsburg and got thrown out by the bouncer.
He then took the bouncer's car for a spin while intoxicated but returned it. He was retained by the bouncer until police came and arrested Miller.
Friday morning in Cass County Circuit Court, Judge Michael Dodge told Miller his action was unusual as he has no prior record and holds a bachelor's degree. He said it is frustrating to lose a job, and Miller agreed it was inappropriate action. Dodge said driving the bouncer's car could have been disastrous as he could have struck someone on the highway while driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.24 percent – three times the legal limit.
Dodge told Miller everyone drinks in college and it got worse for him. "You didn't realize it and now look what happened …"
Dodge told him to follow through with treatment as it is important for the rest of his life. "You may have already become an alcoholic. You need to deal with it," he said.
Prosecutor Victor Fitz said he was driving in a drunken stupor. At age 22, he should turn himself around and hold himself accountable.
Defense attorney Dennis Tushla of Dowagiac said this is a first conviction for Miller, and he has a record of good behavior.
He is attending a treatment program at Woodlands Behavioral Healthcare Network, he said.
Miller apologized and said he is moving forward and getting help from his family. He is also re-evaluating his friends. He said he is ashamed of being in front of the court, and it will not happen again. For unlawfully driving away a motor vehicle, his probation fee is $480 plus $670 costs and another $145 costs for operating a vehicle while intoxicated.