by Sheila Gardner

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February 26, 2013
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Drunk driving earns man 13-year prison sentence

A 38-year-old Gardnerville man was sentenced Tuesday to 131⁄2 years in Nevada state prison for drunk driving with a prior felony conviction.

District Judge Tod Young told John Herron he must serve a minimum of 40 months before he is eligible for parole.

The sentence exceeded a plea agreement reached between Herron and prosecutors which called for 3-10 years.

The maximum for a second felony driving under the influence conviction is 15 years, and is up to the judge despite any plea deal.

Attorney Derrick Lopez said his client had been sober for three years before nearly losing his 2-year-old daughter to diabetes.

The little girl, who was present at her father's sentencing, had been misdiagnosed and nearly died, Lopez said.

Herron was arrested Oct. 24, 2012, with a blood-alcohol content of .260, more than three times the legal limit of .08.

"With the exception of this incident, Mr. Herron has maintained his sobriety and re-established his faith. He wants to be a father to his children. He knows if an event like this happens again, he can't deal with it using alcohol," Lopez said.

Herron apologized, and promised to get help for his alcoholism as soon as he is released from prison. He said the prison system had suspended all substance abuse programs.

"I don't want to lose my family," he said.

Young pointed out that Herron's getting drunk and driving did nothing to help his daughter. He said Herron's prior incarcerations and treatment program weren't enough to keep him from driving drunk.

"Why aren't you the guy the Legislature had in mind when they set the maximum sentence for 15 years?" Young asked.

"This notion your daughter is ill, and you get to drive drunk and expose other people's daughters to danger; then you present me with a letter from your 9-year-old asking me not to put their daddy in prison, that's offensive," Young said. "It's another example of you using your children. That's not acceptable."

He gave Herron credit for 54 days in custody, and ordered him to obtain a device for his vehicle to determine whether he's been drinking once he gets his driver's license back.

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The Record Courier Updated Feb 26, 2013 06:37PM Published Feb 26, 2013 06:31PM Copyright 2013 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.