10-time drunken driver gets 3 years in prison

Carroll woman ran car into police cruiser

August 07, 2002|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

A 43-year-old Carroll County woman was sentenced yesterday to three years in prison for her 10th drunken-driving offense.

Besides receiving the maximum term for her May conviction for driving under the influence, Brenda Lee Sawyer was given two consecutive one-year sentences for driving with a revoked license and leaving the scene of an injury accident. Those sentences were suspended.

Sawyer was sentenced for crashing her vehicle into the rear of a state police car and fleeing into a wooded area in November - less than three weeks after she had been released from jail on probation from a previous drunken-driving offense. She has a history of drunken-driving convictions dating back more than two decades.

Her lawyer, Senior Public Defender Judson K. Larrimore, said Sawyer was "fully prepared" to receive the prison sentence yesterday. "She recognizes that she needs to be punished," he said. "She's always known that she's going to jail, and we've never argued against it."

In a trembling voice, Sawyer told the court that her eight months of sobriety have been difficult, but that she wants to change and find God, "and not be ashamed of how I've lived my life from this point on."

In arguing for the prison sentence, Senior State's Attorney David P. Daggett said, "She is not a victim. She never has been. She never will be. ... She drinks, and she drinks a lot, and she chooses to drink."

Patsy A. Kressig, president of the Carroll County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said after yesterday's hearing that Sawyer's case illustrates the need for tougher penalties for drunken driving.

"What worries me is how long she will serve," Kressig said. But she said the case had brought attention to drunken driving, and added that she was "quite frankly pleased" with the sentence handed down by Carroll Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr.

Sawyer had eight drunken-driving convictions in Montgomery County, where she previously lived, between 1980 and 1995. After she was convicted of her ninth offense last year, Burns sentenced her to a year in jail, with half that term suspended.

She had served most of that sentence when she was released Nov. 8 from the Carroll County Detention Center. She drove her Dodge Caravan into the rear of a state trooper's vehicle about 1 a.m. Nov. 27 on the eastbound shoulder of Liberty Road in Eldersburg and fled into nearby woods, leading to a 22-minute search. Trooper Rebecca Bosley was treated for neck injuries and returned to duty, but her police car was inoperable.

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