A man facing his seventh conviction for drunk driving will be back in court for a new hearing. That’s after an appeals court says a judge didn’t properly explain the reasons for going above and beyond the typical sentence.
The Jackson County judge initially sentenced Howard Kermit Mead to between 3 and 15 years in prison after his arrest by the Blackman-Leoni Township Department of Public Safety on June 25, 2016.
According to the court’s finding, the 43-year-old initially admitted to driving the car that ended up in a ditch that night and told police he had had “a lot” to drink at a party before the accident.
Because of the smell of alcohol, Mead’s slurred words, and his glassy eyes, officers suspected he was drunk. While Mead did not agree to a roadside sobriety test, officers arrested him, got a warrant for a blood alcohol test, and found he had a blood-alcohol level of .37 – which is more than four times the legal limit for driving.
A jury found Mead guilty of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, and at his sentencing on November 29, 2017, the judge noted that multiple attempts at rehab had not worked, and that Mead had “been afforded virtually every resource available through the State of Michigan in the County of Jackson, yet continues to abuse alcohol and drive a motor vehicle.”
The judge also noted it was Mead’s 7th drunk driving arrest.
“I understand this is all about alcohol and this is all about your substance abuse disorder and where it has led you,” the judge said. “But I also know for certain that the community isn’t safe if you’re out in it. So I think the sentence warranted today is in excess of the guidelines.”
Because of Mead’s prior record, the sentencing guidelines called for a minimum of 0 to 22 months.
But the appeals court said that “although the court offered several reasons for departing from the enhanced guidelines, it did not address the extent of the departure and did not refer to the guidelines.”
For that reason, the court says Mead should be re-sentenced.
Records from the Michigan Department of Corrections show that Mead is currently being held at a prison in Marquette.
Mead’s appeal had also asked the court to throw out the whole case for several reasons, including a violation of his 5th Amendment rights, the failure to preserve body cam video as evidence, and because his lawyer didn’t do a good job.
The appeals court denied those motions and upheld the verdict, saying Mead was only entitled to a new sentencing hearing.