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Court says drunken driver can choose jail over probation

May 2, 2019

ADRIAN, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan appeals court says a man convicted of drunken driving can seek a jail sentence over probation.

Joseph Bensch pleaded guilty to two separate drunken driving cases in Lenawee County. In one case, he was sentenced to six months in jail followed by six months in an in-patient treatment program. In the other case, he was sentenced to two years of probation with many conditions.

The sentences were supposed to run at the same time. But Bensch’s lawyer objected to probation in the second case.

The appeals court says the “issue rarely arises.” But in a 2-1 opinion, judges Douglas Shapiro and Jane Beckering says a 1975 legal precedent allows someone to decline probation in favor of jail. Judge Jonathan Tukel dissented.