In August of 2015, 20-year-old Jared Gerhardt was charged with a single count of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated causing serious injury. The accident took place in March, when Gerhardt was allegedly driving 100 mph before his Camaro veered toward a sign and ultimately left the road before rolling numerous times and coming to rest in a field.
Three people were in the vehicle when the crash occurred; Gerhardt, 20-year-old Austin Myers, and 17-year-old Wyatt M. Barry. Myers and Gerhardt were thrown from the car during the accident. Barry ran to a nearby residence for help, and told deputies upon their arrival that Myers had been driving Gerhardt’s Camaro initially, but at some point the two switched places. Before the crash occurred, news articles indicate Myers grabbed the wheel while Gerhardt was driving when the vehicle began leaving the road, then Gerhardt overcorrected causing him to lose control.
Gerhardt, now 21 years old, pleaded guilty to the charge which is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Austin Myers suffered a broken arm in the crash, and Gerhardt was very remorseful in court according to reports, saying that he made a very bad decision and got behind the wheel under the influence. He also said he felt bad that his friend was hurt in the accident.
Now the judge in the case says that if Gerhardt stays out of trouble, he may be able to avoid prison time. The Bay County Prosecutor’s office agreed to recommend a delayed sentence of two years, which means Gerhardt would be allowed to withdraw his plea if he successfully completes the terms, and instead plead guilty to one count of OWI, a misdemeanor. Essentially, Gerhardt would receive probation but must comply with the terms in order to avoid prison. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 9.
This is a very common scenario; three friends who’ve had a few drinks and are out riding around in a sports car, driving at very fast speeds and meaning no harm. However, when someone is under the influence, common sense often flies out the window. It seems these are basically good young men who made a terrible mistake. According to news reports, Gerhardt seemed extremely remorseful for what he had done.
In most cases, if an individual pleads not guilty to OWI causing serious injury and goes to trial, that person will face up to five years behind bars if found guilty. In Michigan, the punishment for drunk driving causing serious bodily injury may also include fines of up to $5,000, driver’s license suspension, even vehicle forfeiture.
As you can see, the penalties for driving while under the influence and causing serious bodily injury are severe. However, there are situations in which someone may be given a delayed sentence, as in the case above. The legal options depend on the facts of your particular case. If you have found yourself in a similar situation, consult with a highly skilled Michigan criminal defense attorney immediately.