Judge lenient on serial drunken driver

Published 6:33 am Saturday, April 14, 2012

CASSOPOLIS — A Dowagiac man is being given one last chance to get his life back in order after being convicted of his eighth drunken driving offense.

Christopher Beebe, 50, was sentenced Friday to three years of probation and 365 days in Cass County Jail by Circuit Court Judge Michael Dodge.

Beebe had a blood alcohol level of 0.25 when he rolled his vehicle on Michigan-51 Dec. 1. Beebe was so calm, said chief assistant prosecutor Frank Machnik, that he smoked a cigarette while rescue crews attempted to extricate him from the vehicle.

“We are very fortunate that this was only a one-car accident … he could have easily taken out other people in this situation,” Machnik said.

Dodge could’ve doled out a much harsher sentence, but sided with a probation officer’s assertion that a local sentence would be more constructive for Beebe.

Dodge said Beebe has a good job and has maintained solid employment for quite some time, despite his extensive criminal history. Beebe has five prior felony convictions and 12 misdemeanor convictions. Dodge pointed out that Beebe hasn’t been convicted since 2003.

Dodge said if Beebe is able to keep his job he would be allowed work release after serving 30 days in jail, with credit for four days served.

“It would be good if you could keep your family together and maintain your employment through now another rough period in your life,” Dodge said. “I am going to give you what amounts to one last opportunity. You simply aren’t going to get another one.”