It’s been a full thirteen years since 51-year-old Ronald J. Sutherland was arrested and charged with drunk driving and OWI Child Endangerment. However, while it may have taken a lot longer than the courts ever anticipated, and the child in Sutherland’s car is now no longer a minor, this defendant is now headed to jail. So where did this long and rather odd story begin? On the evening of December 30, 2003…
Police reports show that Sutherland’s vehicle was first spotted by an of-duty Bay County Sheriff’s Deputy. He called 911 to report a suspected drunk driver. It was just after 6:20 in the evening, and Sutherland was behind the wheel of a burgundy 1994 Dodge heading east on Wilder Road. The deputy followed the car until Michigan State Police troopers arrived and forced Sutherland to pull over in a Meijer Parking lot.
When questioned by police, Sutherland told officers that he was driving from Sanford, MI. At first he denied having had any alcohol, but then later admitted that he had consumed two double shots of vodka in a half an hour period of time. He also explained to police that his license had been suspended due to a 2001 DUI conviction. He submitted to a breath test, which revealed that his BAC was .12, which is higher than Michigan’s legal limit of .08.
Because Sutherland’s 14-year-old son was in the vehicle with him, and he was over the legal limit for alcohol consumption, he was arrested. His fiance was contacted and arrived to take the vehicle and Sutherland’s son back home. Sutherland, however, went to jail and stayed there until he was granted a $6,500 bail, which he posted.
Sutherland’s next court appearance was scheduled for over a month late, on February 9, 2004. Unfortunately he never showed up, and no one knew where he was, although he later explained that he had moved away from Michigan and was living in Florida. On March 11, 2004, a bench warrant was issued in his name by then Bay County District Judge Scott Newcombe, and his bond was forfeited.
Years went by with no sign of Sutherland…
And then unexpectedly, on August 22 of 2016, Sutherland was arrested again in Lewiston, Michigan, an unincorporated community in Montmorency County. However, because it had been so long, the prosecutor was willing to work with Sutherland on the charges.
Sutherland pleaded guilty to a single count of third-offense Operating While Intoxicated. In return, the prosecutor agreed to dismiss two other charges. These charges were single counts of Driving While Intoxicated with a Passenger Younger than 16 (Child Endangerment) and Second Offense Driving While License Suspended, Revoked, or Denied.
The prosecutor also agreed to recommend that instead of going to prison for the 5 recommended years, Sutherland would instead serve one year in the county jail. As a result, when Sutherland appeared before Bay County Circuit Judge Joseph K. Sheeran just days ago, he was given credit for 137 days already served and sentenced to spend one year in jail. He was also ordered to pay $198 in court fines and fees.
Ultimately, while a year in jail isn’t fun for anyone, it’s worlds better than the alternative of years in prison. Having alternatives when you are facing DUI charges can be the difference between community service and jail time, or jail time and time spent in prison. In some cases, it can even mean a complete dismissal of the charges against you. All of this, however, depends on the attorney you hire to represent you. Be sure to make the right choice and call the Kronzek Firm. We have been successfully defending our clients against all kinds of drunk and drugged driving charges for decades. We can help you too. We can be reached 24/7 at 866-766=5245.