MILLERSBURG -- For being impaired and causing a July crash that caused another man to be hospitalized for more than a week, a Millersburg man was sentenced to 14 months in prison.
Lesley L. Summers, 38, 6970 Township Road 319, previously pleaded guilty in Holmes County Common Pleas Court to vehicular assault and operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. In exchange for his guilty plea, related charges of aggravated vehicular assault and passing in an intersection were dismissed.
On Summers' behalf, attorney Michael Boeske said his client is remorseful and realizes the seriousness of the incident. He called the crash a "very unfortunate accident" and asked for a non-prison sanction.
Summers said he was sorry for causing the accident, adding, "I didn't mean no harm."
"You say it was an accident, I say you were driving drunk. There's a difference," responded Judge Robert Rinfret, who then read down a list of Summers' past criminal convictions, including three prior drunken driving offenses, driving under suspension, gross sexual imposition and disorderly conduct.
"You've got an alcohol problem. Statistics show the average person drives drunk (80) times before they get pulled over for DUI. You've got three. If that's the case, you did it (240) times, probably more," said Rinfret.
The other driver involved in the crash was hospitalized for nearly a week, during which time he was in an induced coma for a period because of swelling on the brain, according to victim advocate Andy Zedella.
"We're very fortunate someone's not dead," said Rinfret, who imposed the prison term, as well as a six-month jail sentence, to be served concurrently. He ordered Summers to pay $2,000 in fines, as well as court costs, and suspended Summers' driver's license for five years.
"Mr. Summers, you're going to prison," said Rinfret, encouraging Summers to take advantage of all possible programs in the institution. Then, he said, he would consider granting him early release to a treatment program at Stark Regional Community Correction Center.
"You have a problem. Someone was hurt. You call it an accident. I call it you got behind the wheel of a car and someone almost died," said Rinfret.
The charges stem from a July 23 crash at the intersection of U.S. 62 and County Road 201. That's when Summers, eastbound on U.S. 62, attempted to pass another vehicle, also eastbound, but turning left onto County Road 201, which was driven by Travis L. Keim, Millersburg.
Summers, who received only a minor cut on his chin, was treated at the scene, where he remained when a responding trooper arrived, according to Lt. Stephanie Norman, commander of the Wooster Post of the State Highway Patrol.
Summers had red, bloodshot, glassy eyes and the trooper detected an odor of alcohol, according to Norman, who said Summers gave indications of being impaired during several field sobriety tests.
A breath test indicated his blood-alcohol content was 0.059, said Norman, noting that while the level was not at or above the prohibitive level, he was impaired and cited for OVI.
"There's a misconception that if you're 0.08, you're drunk and if you're under, you're not," Norman said, noting alcohol affects every person differently. And, while 0.08 is the prohibitive level, "You can be impaired at 0.02.
"People think if they test under (0.08), they're good to go. If we still feel you appear impaired, we'll cite you. We didn't set the standard. We go by if we think you're impaired -- you're ability to operate a vehicle and function," she said.
Reporter Christine Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.