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Repeat DWI offender loses appeal

August 02, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

A Virginia man with a history of alcohol-related driving offenses failed to convince Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick Wright Monday that it would be safe to let him out of jail.

Michael Joseph Stevens, 42, was appealing the eight-month jail sentence he got in April in Washington County District Court for violation of probation.

Wright denied his appeal and ordered that he must serve the sentence he received because he tested positive for Valium, cocaine and morphine during three separate drug tests while he was on probation, court records said.

"I'm not Santa Claus. ... You knew what would happen if you violated probation," Wright said.

Stevens also had violated his probation by getting another conviction for driving while intoxicated, court records said.

Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Arthur Rozes said Stevens got a six-month consecutive sentence for that new DWI conviction.

Defense attorney Eric Reed said Stevens couldn't afford his medications when he was out of jail so he started drinking again.

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"My sobriety record has been pretty good," Stevens said Monday. "I only relapsed a couple of times."

Wright imposed the same eight months, saying anything less would be accepting his excuses.

"He's done well in jail, and the community is protected," Wright said. "It doesn't benefit the community by letting him out."

In 1992, Steven, then 36, crashed his vehicle into Terri Gable's car on the U.S. 340 bridge, plunging her into a coma for six weeks, according to court records and newspaper clippings at the time.

When she emerged, she remained hospitalized 3 1/2 more months.

That 1992 accident was Stevens' third alcohol-related driving offense, according to court records then.

He received a six-month jail sentence imposed in September 1993 for that crash, according to court records.

After her wounds healed, Terri Gable became a Mothers Against Drunk Driving advocate for victims, speaking to groups and to people convicted of DWI serving sentences at the Washington County Detention Center.

Contacted Monday, Gable said she is still speaking and is working toward her master's degree in counseling.

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