Felony DUI earns 10-year prison term

A 64-year-old Gardnerville man was sentenced Monday to 10 years in Nevada State Prison for his second felony drunk driving conviction.

"The court can't expect you'll ever try to rehabilitate yourself," District Judge Michael Gibbons told Karl Berns. "You have nine driving under the influence convictions over 35 years. It's a long time, but that still is horrific. Every time you drink and drive, you put people at risk."

Berns, convicted of felony drunk driving in 1997, told Gibbons he thought the sentence was "kind of out of the question, considering. It's pretty much a done deal, right?"

Prosecutor Karen Dustman said Berns failed to realize the seriousness of his alcoholism.

"He calls it 'a slip,'" she said. "He doesn't recognize the pattern of his behavior. He's a threat to community."

Berns was stopped May 30 at Waterloo and Toiyabe for driving without a rear license plate.

The deputy who stopped him smelled alcohol and performed a preliminary test which indicated Berns' alcohol content allegedly was .255, more than three times the legal limit of .08 for driving in Nevada.

The law states that once a driver is convicted of a felony DUI, each subsequent conviction is another felony with increasing prison time.

Berns, who was given credit for 65 days in custody, must serve 26 months before he is eligible for parole.

His lawyer, Tod Young, said while Berns' criminal record was lengthy, he hadn't been arrested for DUI for 10 years.

"You go back a long way, he's done well in staying out of the criminal justice system for drinking and driving," Young said.

Young said Berns' belief he wasn't that intoxicated despite an alcohol content more than three times the legal limit was indicative of his problem.

He said 10 years was too long for his client.

"He's not a young man," Young said.


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