Recovery claim saves man from prison term DWI arrests drove him to treatment

July 20, 1993|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

Recovering alcoholic and drug addict Roby Lewis "Chip" Shipley avoided incarceration yesterday for the last of four driving while intoxicated charges he had wracked up in less than 10 months.

Frederick County Circuit Judge G. Edward Dwyer Jr. convicted Mr. Shipley of the two offenses, but suspended the 60-day sentence he imposed on the defendant that would have been served in the Frederick County Detention Center.

Mr. Shipley, who is from Frederick, was convicted by Carroll County Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. of two DWI charges July 13. The judge suspended a one-year sentence to the Carroll County Detention Center and placed him on five years' probation in both cases.

In Frederick yesterday, Judge Dwyer ordered Mr. Shipley to pay more than $900 in fines, and gave him three years' probation to run concurrently with the Carroll County probation.

Mr. Shipley told both judges about his alcohol and drug addiction problems, and of his fight to stay clean and sober by committing himself to an addiction treatment program at Shoemaker House in Westminster.

Mr. Shipley said while he was confident Judge Dwyer understood he wanted to change his life, he wasn't too sure the judge would agree to keep him out of jail.

"I was scared. I thought I was going to jail," Mr. Shipley said. "But I talked to the judge, and I believe he figured that I wasn't in the program to beat the system. I was in it for me."

Mr. Shipley's drug and alcohol problems began long before his rash of DWI arrests, which began in June 1992. He said he had often taken money from loved ones to support his habit.

His first run-in with the law occurred as he was speeding on Interstate 70 near New Market in late June 1992. About a week later, he was arrested for speeding in Carroll County. His third DWI arrest occurred two weeks later. It was coupled with an eluding police charge after he ran from his car when he saw a police officer following him on Route 27 near Mount Airy.

His final arrest, April 27 -- for going the wrong way on a one-way street in Frederick -- made him realize he needed help.

"This [drug addiction] program is unreal. I am very happy," Mr. Shipley said of the verdict in yesterday's cases.

"I saw the judge after court, when my mother and [my fiancee] went to lunch. I walked up to him and shook his hand," he said. "He just looked, shook my hand and said 'Good luck.' "

Mr. Shipley said he plans to take things slow, attend the after-care program at Shoemaker House for the next month, and attend "90 meetings in 90 days" as part of his treatment.

"Right now I've got to get my hooks into everything," he said. "I'll stay with my counselor in Westminster and attend my meetings, just take it slow, one day at a time."

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