Aspen woman sentenced for two DWAI offenses in two months
The Aspen Times
Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely handed down a 70-day jail sentence Tuesday to an Aspen woman who pleaded guilty recently to her second and third drunken-driving offenses.
Dana L. Berry, 42, also was given two years’ probation for the two Driving While Alcohol Impaired offenses. One of the offenses was the result of a traffic stop in Glenwood Springs on May 2, 2013, in which her blood-alcohol level was 0.27, more than three times the minimum level for a DUI charge, which is .08. A DWAI, which carries lesser fines and penalties, usually is reserved for offenses in which a blood-alcohol level is 0.05 or higher, but less than 0.08.
The other offense related to separate incidents about two months later, on June 24, in which she wrecked her car on Watson Divide Road and then called a friend to take the blame before authorities arrived, according to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. Though Berry was not charged with drunken driving immediately after that crash, deputies found her driving the same vehicle just hours later that same day on Maroon Creek Road, where they stopped her and took her into custody.
In the June incident, she had been driving with a revoked license, a deputy’s report said.
As part of a plea agreement with the District Attorney’s Office, Berry will be allowed to work away from the jail through the court’s work-release option. But Fernandez-Ely said she also must submit to random alcohol testing, participate in counseling and pay a fine of $500 in addition to other costs.
She also ordered Berry to undergo a mental-health evaluation and encouraged her to seek medical solutions to her alcohol cravings.
Her Aspen attorney, Richard Nedlin, said in court that while the drunken-driving incident in Glenwood Springs cannot be excused, the one on June 24 was the result of some abuse she took earlier that day. Berry, said Nedlin, was in a highly dysfunctional relationship, and she had just sustained a “beating.” She had been depressed for a long time and was self-medicating, he said.
Nedlin described a new Dana Berry who has made a 180-degree change in her life. He said she is maintaining employment and resides in town, therefore she no longer needs to drive.
“A switch has gone off in her head,” he said. noting that Berry now looks forward to therapy.
Fernandez-Ely commended Berry for her efforts and expressed hope that she will complete the probation.
“It seems that you’re going to keep doing that, making that effort, and if you don’t then I guess you have this jail hanging over you,” the judge said.
Berry must report to the Pitkin County Jail on June 15. She must return to County Court on July 29 for a review of her progress.
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