Three Oaks man gets jail time for drunk driving

Published 4:20 pm Tuesday, November 28, 2023

NILES — A Three Oaks man who has a prior conviction for drunk driving causing serious injury was sentenced to jail and probation Monday in Berrien County Trial Court for third offense drunk driving.

Derek Allen Loraff, 46, of Three Oaks, pleaded guilty to third offense drunk driving and was sentenced to three years probation, 270 days in jail with credit for seven days served, 180 days tether, 480 hours of community service and $2,384 in fines and costs including $806 to the Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Fire Department.

He also pleaded guilty to two contempt of court charges for failing to report for alcohol testing at the prescribed times in August and September. He was given credit for time served on those offenses.

The incident occurred Dec. 7, 2022 in Oronoko Township. Loraff drove on the wrong side of the road at a high rate of speed and hit two other cars.

Defense attorney Kevin Banyon said Loraff “is a good guy when he’s sober” and had relapsed last year when this incident occurred. “He should have learned his lesson and know his triggers,” he said. “He needs to focus on his brain injury, his sobriety and his treatment.”

Banyon was referring to the brain injury Loraff sustained when he was involved in a 2015 accident that killed a bicyclist near Three Oaks. He pleaded no contest to drunk driving causing serious injury and did not go to prison.

Berrien County Trial Judge Jennifer Smith told Loraff that he needs to focus on himself and figure out how to stay sober. “You are someone who needs to stop drinking, you put every single person on the road in danger when you drink and drive,” she said.

Judge Smith said she had considered sending Loraff to prison but decided he could be monitored with probation. She warned him that he would be going to prison if he violates his probation. “You have to find another way to address your issues, otherwise you will spend time in prison,” she said.