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Repeat drunk driver avoids prison on 8th offense

Posted: 8:22 PM, Dec 09, 2015
Updated: 2015-12-09 20:22:24-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- A repeat drunk driver just convicted of his eighth drunk driving offense is not serving prison time for the crime.

Records show Michael Myers, 38, has eight drunk driving convictions dating back to 1996.

Myers’ convictions span four different Indiana counties — Boone, Monroe, Marion and Hendricks.

The Brownsburg man has served three stints in prison for drunk driving in 2003, 2004-2005 and 2013.

His driver’s license has been suspended 20 times, BMV records show.

PHOTOS | Myers' arrests

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In July 2015, Myers was driving on Jeff Gordon Boulevard in Hendricks County when he slammed into a concrete barrier and then a guardrail.

At the time of the crash, he was drunk and still on parole with the Indiana Department of Correction from his last drunk driving offense, also in Hendricks County.

Just last month, Myers reached a plea agreement with the Hendricks County Prosecutor’s Office for the July incident.

He pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while intoxicated: endangering a person and being a habitual vehicular substance offender.

Myers faced a possible prison sentence of more than 10 years.

However, he is not serving any time in prison for the 8th drunk driving conviction.

Hendricks County Superior Court Judge Mark Smith gave Myers a 1,670 day sentence in the Indiana Department of Correction, but suspended 1,567 days, and gave Myers credit for 73 days served in the county jail plus 30 days of good time credit.

As a condition of his probation, Myers must successfully complete drug court.

Call 6 Investigates Kara Kenney caught up with Myers as he headed into the Hendricks County courthouse for a drug court hearing. 

Kenney:  Why do you keep drinking and driving?

Myers: Uh, I don’t have any comments

Kenney: You have eight cases on your record. Why do you keep doing it, sir?

Myers: I can email you the reason

Kenney: I’m standing right in front of you. Can you just answer a few questions?

Myers: No thank you.

Kenney: What do you say to those people who don’t want to be on the road next to you?

Myers: I’m not driving anymore, so they don’t have anything to worry about.

As part of his sentence, Myers’ driver’s license was suspended for one year.

Judge Mark Smith does not discuss details of pending cases, but agreed to sit down with Call 6 Investigates to talk about the importance of drug court.

“Obviously, the ultimate goal is public safety,” said Judge Mark Smith. “It’s to keep people from repeating offenses and repeating old habits that got them to this point to begin with.”

Drug court is a two-year program divided into five phases that includes things like counseling, community services and drug and alcohol testing.

Smith disputes the notion that prison is always the best place for repeat offenders.

“There are other ways to hold people accountable besides sending them to prison,” said Smith. “Statistically a large percentage of people in prison are going to get back out. And we know that statistically for people released from prison, there’s a high rate of recidivism.”

Smith said he has the option to send someone to prison if they’re not complying with the rules of the drug court program.

Call 6 Investigates attended a drug court hearing this month and witnessed several participants taken away in handcuffs after the judge determined they weren’t meeting the program’s requirements.

“There’s no magic number I can pull out of the air that says if I send this person to prison or jail for so many days they’re never going to drink again,” said Smith. “Who wouldn’t love that? That’s an easy solution, but we know historically that does not work.”

Smith said he does not take his decisions lightly.

“I’m an elected official,” said Smith. “I live in this county. My wife and children drive around this county.I want people safe.”

Mothers Against Drunk Driving wrote letters to Judge Smith asking for stiffer penalties for Myers including in-patient treatment and an ignition interlock on Myers’ car.

“To make this poor choice and put the public at risk over and over again is quite concerning,” said Lael Hill, victims services specialist for MADD Indiana. “We think anyone convicted of a DUI, even if it’s the first time, should have an ignition interlock mandated to be installed on their vehicles.”

Hill said Myers belongs in prison.

“We fully believe that’s where he should be to hold him accountable, to keep the public safe, and to also show other people out there it’s a violent crime, it’s not acceptable and if you drive drunk you will go to prison,” said Hill.

Michael Myers invited Call 6 Investigates to read his letter to the judge, which talks about his longtime problems with drinking including a family history and blackouts.

So far, Myers has passed his drug and alcohol screens.

Call 6 Investigates plans to follow his progress through drug court.

The Hendricks County Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment on Myers’ case because he is still under the supervision of the drug court program, but the agency did provide a statement.

“The Indiana State legislature has adopted alternative sentencing options based upon evidence-based practices for non-violent offenders who commit crimes solely because of their deeply-rooted substance abuse and addiction, one of these options being drug court,” read the statement. “Research has shown that Defendants who fail to utilize treatment options and are sent to the Department of Correction will continue their substance addiction and commit further crime once they are released.  In contrast, the drug court program promotes long term treatment responses coupled with immediate sanctions to reduce recidivism with a high risk and high need, non-violent population.”

 

FULL STATEMENT FROM HENDRICKS COUNTY PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE:

The Hendricks County Prosecutor's Office is committed to reaching a fair and just resolution in every case that we prosecute.  As part that commitment, I will not comment on the specifics of any case when the Defendant is still under the supervision of the Court while in the drug court program.  However, I will say that our drug court program is certified by national and state standards, and our office assisted in establishing it in 2011.  The Indiana State legislature has adopted alternative sentencing options based upon evidence-based practices for non-violent offenders who commit crimes solely because of their deeply-rooted substance abuse and addiction, one of these options being drug court.  Research has shown that Defendants who fail to utilize treatment options and are sent to the Department of Correction will continue their substance addiction and commit further crime once they are released.  In contrast, the drug court program promotes long term treatment responses coupled with immediate sanctions to reduce recidivism with a high risk and high need, non-violent population.  Through the use of strict supervision by the Court and intensive monitoring from a variety of screening mechanisms, participants in the drug court program are given the tools to maintain sobriety which research has shown significantly reduces the risk of the commission of future crimes, and ultimately, increases public safety. An individual qualifies for the drug court program after meeting rigorous criterion, and then enters a guilty plea with a conviction and is placed in the program for a minimum of 2 years.  If any participant fails to complete the program, then he is terminated from the program, and typically the State argues for the Defendant to serve the balance of their sentence, which is often many years in the Department of Correction. We have had many individuals graduate the program and lead a life of recovery without committing new crime, which fosters the State’s ultimate goal of protecting public safety.   There are many drug courts across the State that have been developed through the supervision of the Indiana Judicial Center.  For a list of those, go to http://www.in.gov/judiciary/pscourts/files/pscourts-psc-directory.pdf .  For more information on drug courts generally, go to nadcp.org

 

 

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