Drunken driver gets 6 months in jail

Man agrees to plea bargain for reduced sentence after accident

Posted: Friday, March 15, 2002

A 20-year-old Juneau man was sentenced to six months in jail Thursday for a drunken driving accident that injured a passenger.

David Nash pleaded guilty Thursday in Juneau District Court to drunken driving and assault, both misdemeanors, stemming from an incident on Feb. 6.

Nash originally was charged with felony failure to render reasonable assistance in an accident, two counts of felony assault and misdemeanor drunken driving. He also was cited for underage drinking. He faced up to 20 years in prison for those charges.

In accordance with a plea bargain between Nash and the state, District Judge Peter Froehlich sentenced him to 20 months in jail with 14 months suspended, ordered drug and alcohol treatment, revoked his driver's license for 90 days and placed him on probation for three years.

Nash's sentence included 52 days of suspended prison time from a previous conviction for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, his only other conviction, stemming from an offense last spring, authorities said.

Assistant District Attorney Doug Gardner said Nash was "lucky" the state offered him a plea bargain.

"The time he has to serve is commensurate with the damage someone does when he drinks, drives and causes an injury accident," said Gardner. "We could've exercised a lot more force in terms of prosecuting this one."

Police said they responded to a one-vehicle rollover accident near Threadneedle Street, in the Valley, near midnight on Feb. 6. Police said they saw a man running from the accident into the woods. The passengers in the vehicle, Nash's cousin and his friend, were taken to the hospital, treated for injuries and released.

In the plea bargain, Nash was charged with assault stemming from injuries to only one of the passengers.

In court Thursday, Public Defender Eric Hedland said Nash had been drinking at a friend's house before the accident. Hedland said Nash got a phone call from his cousin, who said he had taken Nash's truck and was "stuck."

Nash testified Thursday that he shouldn't have been driving and never intended to drive that night, but at the time felt he had to get his cousin and the truck.

Judge Froehlich said he hoped this incident would make Nash think about the effects of drinking and keep him out of trouble.

"If you would never have been over at your friend's house drinking, which you can't legally do anyway, this never would have happened," Froehlich said in court. "Bad things seem to happen to you when you drink. Maybe that should tell you something."

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