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Kalamazoo sheriff's deputy takes plea deal in drunk driving case

Strategic criminal defense was on display during an ongoing drunk driving case in Kalamazoo County. The case involves a sheriff's deputy in the county who faced drunk driving charges after being spotted behind the wheel of her vehicle in a parking lot while heavily intoxicated.

The deputy was originally charged with a misdemeanor count of drunken driving, but instead, she has agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge. Scheduled to appear in Kalamazoo County District Court on Jan. 24, the woman will instead plead guilty to a charge of driving while impaired, which is also a misdemeanor. She will also be sentenced at the hearing and could receive as many as 93 days in jail.

While she could still spend a significant time in jail for the offense, the driving while impaired charge imposes less fines and fees compared to a drunken driving conviction.

The case stems from a Nov. 15, 2012 incident where police encountered the woman in a parking lot around 2:10 a.m. She was seated in a 2006 Cadillac with the car running, lights on and driver's side door open. An officer said the woman was slumped over the steering wheel and had vomit on her.

Police administered two alcohol breath tests, but the findings were removed from the report. In addition to the criminal charges, the woman was also suspended from work for seven days. Normally, the woman works road patrol, but she has been assigned to work at the county jail until her case is resolved.

A county prosecutor from nearby St. Joseph County, who was assigned to the case, said that a similar plea deal would have been offered to anyone else in her position and that he was not offering preferential treatment to the deputy.

Even those who admit guilt have several routes they can take through the criminal justice system. Weighing the costs and benefits of a plea deal is essential in minimizing what could be a devastating sentence.

Source: MLive.com, "Kalamazoo County sheriff's deputy to plead guilty to lesser charge in drunken driving case," Rex Hall Jr., Jan. 2, 2013

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