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Drunken Driving Victim Unhappy with Sentencing

Port Washington woman faces three years in prison in connection with car-bike accident last fall.

A 35-year-old Port Washington woman has been sentenced to three years in prison for seriously injuring a man in a drunken driving accident nearly a year ago.

But the man who was struck by Ann C. Stelling in September says the sentence isn't harsh enough.

Robert Splan was bicycling home from a day of fishing when he was hit by Stelling. It marked the third time Stelling was caught driving drunk, and the start of hours of surgeries and rehab for Splan.

Splan appeared in court for Stelling’s sentencing hearing on Aug. 11 to make a statement about the "extremely traumatic" experience the collision put him through.

"That's two years of my life that I’m going to be dealing with this because a person made the decision to drive drunk," he said. "I just don’t believe the sentence that has been offered is severe enough."

In addition to the prison sentence, Stelling, 518 W. Chestnut St., also must serve three years of extended supervision. She was also sentenced to jail time totaling less than three years, a sentence that will be served concurrent with her prison time.

Stelling also faces a $2,400 fine, a 36-month revocation of her driving privileges and an ignition interlock during the period of her revocation, and also must undergo an alcohol assessment.

Ozaukee County Judge Paul Malloy said the sentence he handed down reflects Stelling’s inability to recognize her actions as wrong the first two times she drove drunk.

“You’re not being punished because you drank a lot,” Malloy said, according to court transcripts. “You’re being punished because you made the decision (to drive drunk again).”

Stelling also will be responsible for repaying Splan’s medical bills. In April, Splan said those bills totaled about $13,000 — with more surgeries and rehab still expected.

The final cost owed by Stelling toward the medical bills will be left for probation department to determine after Splan's final surgeries.

Stelling did have car insurance and her attorney said the insurance company advised her not to have communication with the victim or make any statements in court, according to the Ozaukee Press.

The incident happened on Sept. 16, when Stelling was driving near the 900 block of North Wisconsin Street. Stelling said a bicyclist came off Douglas Street riding in front of her, according to the criminal complaint, and that she never saw the bicyclist until the collision.

Port Washington police officer Daniel Wolff spoke with Stelling the day of the accident and noticed a strong scent of alcohol and an incoherent appearance shortly after the incident, the criminal report said. She failed field sobriety tests, and a preliminary breath test showed a blood alcohol level of .20, more than twice the .08 legal limit.

Splan suffered injuries including a cut to the back of his head, a concussion and some scrapes on his back, and was admitted to Columbia St. Mary's Hospital.

The state dismissed two counts — operating with PAC, third offense and operating with PAC causing injury, second offense — as part of a plea agreement.

Stelling pleaded no contest to the following charges:

  • Operating while intoxicated and causing injury, a felony charge, for which the sentence could be not more than $10,000 in fines, six years of prison or both as well as one to two years of drivers' license revocation.
  • Third-offense operating while intoxicated, which could mean fines of $600 to $2,000 as well as 45 days to one year in county jail;
  • Two counts of felony bail jumping, each punishable by fines of not more than $10,000, six years in prison or both.

Though Splan does not remember much of the actual incident, witnesses have told him he flew over the car. He suffered a severe concussion, and nearly a year after the accident still has more surgery and rehab in his future.

“I think the public has every right to expect that the court’s going to uphold and protect … from people who have made that choice to drink and drive,” Malloy told the court, according to transcripts. “Also, I think that it’s important that society recognize that people who take this chance and drink too much and drive and injure somebody badly — there are going to be consequences for them.”

Dave August 19, 2011 at 12:07 PM
If you are trash you get thrown out...

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