6-time drunken driver gets work-release sentence


A Carroll judge yesterday sentenced a six-time drunken driver to six months on work release.

Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. said the sentence he imposed on Gary L. Jersild of Westminster was a "fairly lenient one" in light of his six drunken-driving convictions.

"I have no doubt that Mr. Jersild is making a very strong effort at this time, but this is his sixth offense," the judge said. "The court cannot overlook that."

The sentence was much shorter than the three years called for under the state's subsequent-offender statute and shorter than the one requested by Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill.

"We don't say Mr. Jersild isn't a nice person in other parts of his life," the prosecutor told the judge. "But this man is a walking time bomb. . . . If this were to go unpunished, we would be setting the wrong example."

Mr. Jersild and his attorney, Janet A. Shearer of Baltimore, argued that the 43-year-old construction worker was a chronic alcoholic who has finally turned his life around. They asked the judge for six months of home detention.

"Mr. Jersild is a good guy," Ms. Shearer said.

Mr. Jersild was arrested in April after a state trooper noticed him exceeding the speed limit through downtown Hampstead. He was charged with driving while intoxicated and, according to court records, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.24 percent, more than twice Maryland's legal limit of 0.10 percent.

Mr. Jersild's drunken-driving problems stretch back to the 1970s, according to Motor Vehicle Administration records. He was convicted of driving under the influence in November 1973 and of driving while intoxicated in July 1982, March 1983 and twice in April 1983.

Carroll prosecutors often file subsequent-offender petitions for repeat drunken drivers, but judges rarely impose the maximum sentences. Prosecutors and defense attorneys say most first-time drunken drivers are given probation before judgment, which allows the conviction to be wiped from the defendant's criminal record after a period of probation.

Two years ago, a nine-time drunken driver was given probation by Judge Francis M. Arnold, who told Craig Edwin Fulmer that he "was taking responsibility" for the sentence "because if you do anything wrong, I am going to be blamed."

Judge Arnold reinstated Mr. Fulmer's driver's license in April and made the remaining three years of his probation unsupervised.

Last month, in another drunken-driving case Judge Arnold handled, Mary Ann Lamar-Lang was sentenced to six months on work release. She hit and killed a 27-year-old woman in September 1993.

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