Drunk driving can lead to jail time

Published 9:43 am Monday, July 27, 2009

Niles Daily Star

CASSOPOLIS – An Edwardsburg woman who drove drunk and caused a car accident will spend the next 93 days in jail and two years on probation.

Wendy Michael, 50, of 29062 Lark St., Edwardsburg, was driving under the influence of liquor on Christiana Lake Road on June 25, 2008, when she plowed into another vehicle.

Her blood alcohol level was 0.15 percent, almost twice the legal limit recalled Circuit Court Judge Michael Dodge Friday morning during Michael’s sentencing hearing.

Dodge said the driver of the other automobile was seriously injured. The victim received a broken left wrist, a collapsed lung and four broken ribs. The police officer discovered Michael to be heavily intoxicated and failed the sobriety test. “You plowed into someone who didn’t deserve this. It caused significant injuries to the driver,” Dodge said.

Defense attorney Frederick Taylor said Michael has completed an alcohol assessment program at Woodlands Behavioral Healthcare Network. She is self-employed and has a good driving record, he said, in asking for a suspended jail term.

Prosecutor Victor Fitz argued drunk driving is a serious crime, and the injuries to the victim were significant.

Michael apologized to the victim and said she was sorry to the lady she hurt. “I realize it’s wrong to drink and drive.”

She received a concurrent term with the same time for felonious driving and is to do community service time. A restitution hearing will determine the cost of over $4,000 for a destroyed engagement ring worn in the accident by the victim. In addition, Michael is to pay $648 in costs.

In another drunk driving sentencing, Robert Flohr, 38, 427 Parkway St., Niles, was also driving while under the influence of liquor on April 17 on Huntly Road in Niles after he took a car belonging to a friend without his permission. He crashed the automobile and totaled it. Dodge noted Flohr has a record of substance abuse. The offense was committed while on 18 months probation from a Berrien County conviction.

Dodge said he has a poor performance on probation and gave him credit for time served of 52 days jail. He is to pay $2,000 restitution for a down payment on the wrecked car and $181 in costs.

Clyde Boone Jr., 51, of 8471 Columbia, Eau Claire, received 180 days jail and three years probation for third-offense operating a vehicle while under the influence of liquor. It was June 6 when a Cass County Sheriff’s officer was patrolling and found Boone driving 90 miles per hour in a 55-mile-per hour speed limit on Indian Lake Road, Dowagiac

He was driving with a suspended driver’s license, Dodge noted, saying he was “glad” he didn’t crack up or hurt someone else. His blood alcohol level was 0.22 percent. He said he has 19 entries.

Fitz said he was a time bomb on the highway, and it was his fifth drunk driving conviction. “He needs to stay off the highway when drinking.
Defense attorney Lawrence Quigley said Boone understands he has a drinking problem, but this was his first entry since 1990. Boone is to pay $1,938 costs.

Other sentencings are as follows:
• Jerry Owens, 40, 100 Cross St., Dowagiac, received 90 days jail for habitual-second possession of cocaine less that 25 grams. A Dowagiac Police officer arrested Owens on an outstanding warrant and found evidence of cocaine in his vehicle. The offense was committed while on parole from a previous conviction. He is to pay $185 costs.

• Justin Berg, 38, 12711 Bald Hill St., Jones, received a year in jail for third-offense domestic violence on May 10 against his wife and son while drinking alcohol at home. He attempted suicide and after being arrested, he attempted to hang himself with a seat belt in the squad car. Berg’s wife pleaded for a long-term treatment program for him. Dodge hoped during his stay in jail he would take advantage of the programs available. Berg’s father committed suicide, but Dodge said that was in the past. “You have to think about people who are alive today.”

Berg apologized to his family and said he “loved them more than anything in this world.”

He admitted he does need treatment. His costs were $128.