A Holland man who mistakenly offered police food instead of his driver’s license during a traffic stop will spend seven months in the Livingston County Jail for driving drunk.
Rondo John Begay, 38, told the judge he was raised on an Indian reservation and alcohol issues exist on both sides of his family.
“I’m an alcoholic, most definitely,” he said Thursday at his sentencing hearing in 44th Circuit Court in Howell. “… I did get help (previously) through sobriety court in Ottawa County and put together some sober time. I would really like to get back to that sobriety. …
“I’d really like to say thank you to the officer that arrested me and I’d like to say thank you to the ambulance and the person who called the cops. They may very well have saved my life,” Begay said while also thanking his family for their support.
Judge Michael P. Hatty said he “appreciated” Begay’s remorse and recognized that the man may have a genetic disposition toward alcoholism. However, he said punishment was necessary and he sentenced Begay to seven months in jail and three years of probation for operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
“You violate (probation) any of these three years, you’re probably going to Jackson (prison),” the judge said. “You need to have that in front of your brain.”
Assistant Prosecutor Shawn Ryan asked for at least a 28-month prison sentence, noting that “several people” attempted to get Begay’s keys from him and they stood in front of his vehicle to try to stop him from driving drunk on May 3. However, Begay ignored those efforts.
Ryan believes Begay drove drunk from Detroit to Livingston County as the defendant told authorities that he was in Detroit for work and he “got carried away” drinking beer and then stopped on his way home for a six-pack.
“I can think of no other public safety risk where you have people physically attempting to take your keys, you’re refusing, standing in front of your vehicle, disregarding that, leaving the parking lot (and) entering the freeway the wrong way,” she said. “But for the grace of god, for some reason he turned around, or it could have been a head on collision and fatality of himself or someone else.”
Ryan said Begay’s blood alcohol content that day was 0.26; the legal limit is 0.08.
Howell defense attorney Timothy Macdonald said the other side of Ryan’s comments is that Begay, who has a criminal history that includes resisting police, “was remarkably different” than his past self. He noted that Begay had about a 10-year run with sobriety.
“He also did drive down a desolate country road, parked, or passed out or however it turned out,” Macdonald said. “… He has certainly had contact with police, (which) was remarkably different than those past ones.
“(Begay) was very cordial, there was no problems or fights. He mistakenly offered the police officer food instead of his license so he clearly was disoriented but not combative. He did learn that lesson,” Macdonald said. “He’s not without hope. … He does have redeeming qualities.”
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Contact Livingston Daily justice reporter Lisa Roose-Church at 517-552-2846 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRooseChurch.
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