Five years in prison for drunk driving with boy in truck

An Indian Hills man, already serving six months in jail for driving under the influence, was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison because he drove drunk with his 9-year-old son in the vehicle.

"If I could send you to prison for longer, I would," District Judge Dave Gamble told John Tabor, 28.

Gamble imposed the maximum sentence for attempted child abuse or neglect.

Tabor's son, now 10, was a passenger in his truck that collided May 4 with another vehicle seriously injuring the second driver.

Tabor's blood-alcohol content was .196, more than twice the legal limit of .08 for driving. He claimed he blacked out and couldn't remember anything about the accident.

Tabor and his son were uninjured, but the child's mother said Tuesday he has flashbacks about the accident.

"What do I say to my son when he tells me he hates his dad?" she asked Gamble.

"I'm glad he's with me and not in the ground," she said.

The accident victim also attended Tabor's sentencing.

She told Gamble the accident left her physically and mentally disabled.

She asked Gamble to send Tabor to prison.

"I don't feel probation is a deterrent for this man. He deserves to go to prison. He needs to have some time-out from society," she said.

The woman suffered whiplash, a fractured neck and a back injury.

She undergoes physical therapy three times a week and has been unable to garden, wakeboard or waterski since the accident.

Gamble asked prosecutor Tom Gregory why Tabor was not charged with driving under the influence causing substantial bodily harm.

"There were no indications in the original report of injuries. She was not transported. It was only after I contacted her with a victim impact letter that I learned of her significant injuries," Gregory said.

Gregory read from an affidavit in which the boy talked about the impact of his father's drinking and driving.

They were on their way home from a weekend fishing trip.

The boy said he told his father he shouldn't drive because he was drunk. He said his father couldn't walk in a straight line. At one point, the boy said Tabor ordered him to get in the truck or he would be grounded.

On the way home, he said his father pulled over to retrieve more beer from a cooler.

The child said he witnessed the accident and watched the victim's car roll over.

Gregory reminded Gamble that Tabor served 30 days in Douglas County Jail in 2007 after he struck a 3-year-old girl with his pickup truck, slightly injuring the child. He was drunk and also left the accident.

The child suffered scrapes.

"He (Tabor) says about the first case, 'I was sorry but I didn't give it much thought,'" Gregory said. "In the present case, he claims he blacked out. I don't buy that. He put the key in the ignition, drove into town, took the field sobriety tests after the accident.

"It's been argued here today that he was successful with his first probation. If he was truly successful, we wouldn't be here today," Gregory said.

Tabor said he was remorseful and loved his son.

"I do agree with the victim that I need a lot of time to reflect," he said.

Tabor said he was ready to go to prison if that was the best remedy.

"I do have a lot of remorse, I love my son very much. I will have a clear direction of what I need to do," he said.

Tabor's lawyer, Tod Young, read a letter from his client's grandmother who raised him.

She said she gave him and his mother a home. The woman said Tabor loved his children and would have a home with his grandparents when he is out of custody.

"What I found is a young man who seems very concerned about his life, future and children," Young said. "He's cried over his children and talked about how he's exposed other people to danger."

Gamble acknowledged Tabor's grandmother.

"I greatly admire grandparents willing to commit to their grandchildren," he said. "I would be in a far worse situation with homeless kids if grandparents hadn't helped out."

Gamble told Tabor he was fortunate there weren't more injuries or deaths.

"It's difficult for me to imagine a more callous action - the self-centeredness of alcoholism - in the presence of their son, having been pre-warned by your earlier conviction," Gamble said.

"For that same person to have engaged in worse conduct is horribly offensive to the system, the community, the child, the victim and the family," he said.

"This has nothing to do with your proving anything while you're in prison. It's a consequence of your actions against (the victim), your son and the community," he said.

Tabor must serve two years before he is eligible for parole.

He must pay $3,322 in restitution and a $2,000 fine.


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