DUI driver picks diversion program
A 49-year-old Johnson Lane woman, whose blood-alcohol content was more than four times the legal limit for driving, was accepted Monday for a diversion program designed to keep drunk drivers out of prison.
Rebekah Haelsig pleaded guilty to her third offense of driving under the influence of alcohol within seven years.
She faces mandatory prison, but if she successfully completes the 3-5 year program, the offense is considered a misdemeanor second DUI conviction.
Haelsig was arrested April 5 after deputies were called to the Johnson Lane General Store shortly after 8 p.m. on the report of a drunk driver.
The officer observed Haelsig leave the store parking lot, fail to immediately turn on headlights, drive 15 mph in a 25-mph zone, and swerve on the roadway.
According to the report, the officer turned on his overhead lights, and said Haelsig continued on the road for nearly half a mile.
Haelsig said she drove home so her car wouldn’t be towed.
Her blood-alcohol content was .353, more than four times the legal limit of .08 for driving. District Judge Michael Gibbons advised Haelsig that any subsequent DUI convictions would automatically be felonies.
“The (diversion program) is lengthy, detailed, comprehensive, and easy to violate,” Gibbons said. “You cannot have any more DUIs. They would be felonies no matter what.”
Haelsig said she was ready for the diversion program.
“I am glad I’m here,” she said.
Prosecutor Tom Gregory asked that Haelsig be ordered to wear a transdermal device for six months that detects whether she has consumed alcohol.
Haelsig said she is not working and lives in Johnson Lane, but is confident she can fulfill her DUI court obligations.
“I plan on doing a lot of bicycle riding or public transportation or carpool. I am very confident I can fulfill my obligations. I have family members who will help me. With the ‘security device’ of having a device on my person, I can’t get away with anything. I will be under a microscope.”
In 2011, she was convicted of a second DUI with a blood-alcohol content of .354.
Gibbons ordered Haelsig to remain in custody until she is released by the DUI court judge.
“You need to stay in jail until the right treatment plan can be devised for you,” Gibbons said. “The DUI court judge may want you to go into treatment immediately. You have every motivation to succeed.”