Drug counselor sentenced for assault in OVI crash
Poland man’s blood-alcohol level measured three times legal limit
YOUNGSTOWN — Brian M. Williams, 48, of Western Reserve Road in Poland, was sentenced to 15 months in prison after pleading guilty last month to felony vehicular assault and operating a motor vehicle impaired in a Jan. 7 crash.
Nick Brevetta, county assistant prosecutor, told Judge Maureen Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that Williams is a recovering addict and works as a counselor for other people with substance-abuse issues.
“He should know first and foremost the dangers of combining alcohol while driving,” Brevetta said.
Brevetta recommended that Williams receive an 18-month prison sentence — the maximum for the vehicular assault. Brevetta noted that the higher level felony of aggravated vehicular assault was dismissed in exchange for Williams’ plea to the vehicular assault, a fourth-degree felony.
Brevetta said he would not oppose judicial release for Williams after about six months in prison as long as Williams has good behavior while in prison.
The crash happened on Tippecanoe Road at 9:16 p.m. Williams was southbound and crossed the center line and struck another vehicle head-on, causing serious injuries to a 25-year-old Boardman man in the other vehicle, and also injuring Williams.
At the scene, troopers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol detected signs of impairment for Williams — slurred speech, glassy eyes and the odor of alcohol coming from him. Williams admitted to drinking four beers. He refused to be tested for impairment. He also would not answer any questions about the crash.
The driver in the other car had surgery on his leg to install a steel rod in his broken femur, the patrol report states. He also had pins inserted in his broken ankle and was going to have surgery on his broken wrist. He also suffered two herniated discs and a dislocated hip, the report states.
Williams’ blood alcohol level was measured at 0.242, more than three times the legal limit to drive of 0.08, the patrol reported.
Williams had been convicted previously in Mahoning County Area Court in Austintown of drunken driving in 2010, according to his indictment.
Williams’ attorney, Ron Yarwood, said he disagreed that Williams deserved more punishment because of his experience of having become a counselor to others.
“Although we know better, sometime we don’t do better,” Yarwood said.
“Addiction, having been a criminal defense lawyer for 25 years, having seen how addiction ravages individuals there — and also I think all of us have family members and friends who have suffered through addiction. Just telling them to quit isn’t enough, and it’s a work in progress,” he said.
“In this case, my client was doing good. He had done Teen Challenge. Interestingly, he was referred to Teen Challenge as part of his probation at one point, did so well, became so involved in it, became a counselor in it, made great progress in it. He did well, he means well. And yet he faltered because he has feet of clay like all of us,” Yarwood said. He was quoting from a passage in the Bible and from the author James Joyce about an idol or person with a “head of gold” and “feet of clay.”
Yarwood added, “I don’t think he should be punished for knowing better.” Yarwood asked for a sentence that could include jail time of about six months.
Williams said for the past 12 or 13 years he “went to work every day to try to help people overcome their life issues, and because my heart was so inclined to help people, that over time, I forgot to care for myself.”
Because of that, on Jan. 7, he drank alcohol and drove a vehicle and “hurt somebody. And no matter how much my heart is to help people, I hurt somebody. And I could never … I can’t take that back,” he said, getting emotional.
The judge encouraged Williams to use his experience in counseling while in prison to help others.
Williams was indicted on aggravated vehicular assault, vehicular assault and three counts of operating a motor vehicle impaired.