Man receives 2-year prison term on fifth drunken-driving charge

November 30, 1994|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Sun Staff Writer

A 42-year-old Jarrettsville man -- who faced drunken-driving charges five times since 1985 and escaped with virtual slaps on the wrist four times -- was convicted in Harford Circuit Court yesterday and sentenced to two years in prison.

Judge Cypert O. Whitfill told Lawrence Cherneski of Madonna Road that luck was the only difference between his offense and that of a drunken driver who runs into another car and kills someone.

"I'm going to lock you up before you have the chance to kill someone," the judge said, sentencing the defendant to three years, with one year suspended.

Mr. Cherneski received probation before judgment on two previous drunken-driving charges in 1985 and 1991.

According to testimony, an off-duty Baltimore police officer found Mr. Cherneski slumped over his steering wheel with his car's engine running at Route 543 and U.S. 1 on Oct. 27, 1992. When paramedics arrived, they found him asleep.

State Trooper John Heckner locked Mr. Cherneski up on drunken-driving charges, prosecutor Mark Nelson said.

The case was twice postponed in Harford Circuit Court because Mr. Cherneski was in jail in other jurisdictions. In September 1993, he was jailed in Anne Arundel County, Mr. Nelson said, and in January, "he had been locked up for drunk driving in Pennsylvania the night before his court date here."

Court records show that Mr. Cherneski pleaded guilty in the Pennsylvania case, but the prosecutor said it was unclear how much jail time he had served.

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