Sentence upheld in DUI case

Third conviction requires jail term, prosecutors said

October 09, 2004|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

A Howard District Court judge upheld yesterday her sentencing of a five-time drunken-driving offender to a treatment program - despite arguments from prosecutors that the punishment violated a state law that requires jail time in such cases.

After Demetrius C. Dixon, 27, was convicted in August, prosecutors filed a motion saying the sentence was illegal because Maryland law dictates at least 10 days in jail for people convicted three times in five years for driving while under the influence of alcohol.

But after a hearing yesterday, District Judge Sue-Ellen Hantman said her sentence of Dixon to Second Genesis, a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation program with centers in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, amounted to imprisonment.

"It was my intention that Second Genesis was in lieu of jail," she said.

Dixon pleaded guilty in August to the DUI charge, his third time being convicted of the state's most serious drunken-driving charge since 2001. Last year, he was convicted twice of the lesser charge of "driving while impaired by alcohol," the threshold of which is a 0.07 percent blood-alcohol concentration level.

For his August conviction, prosecutors had wanted Dixon - who was also charged with driving on a revoked license in the case - to be sentenced to three years, suspending all but 18 months.

The judge instead imposed a two-year sentence, suspending all of the time, as well as a suspended fine of $1,000. She ordered Dixon to pay $55 in court costs. She also placed him on three years of probation to be supervised by a drinking and driving monitor program.

Dixon's lawyer, Joseph Vallario, said his client is staying at Reality House, a halfway house in Laurel, while he is awaiting a bed at Second Genesis. Vallario said Dixon, who lives in Laurel, according to charging documents, will stay at Second Genesis until he graduates. The program has a maximum stay of 18 months, he said.

The Howard County state's attorney was not unavailable for comment.

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