Motorist Gets More than a Dozen Years Behind Bars following Eighth DUI Conviction

We hear a lot about criminal recidivism, but a percentage of drunk drivers who have been caught and punished still can also have a difficult road ahead of them in terms of repeat offenses pertaining to DWI or drug DUI. As New Jersey drunken driving defense attorneys, I and my staff of experienced trial lawyers understand the difficulties faced by those who have one or more drunk driving convictions in their recent past.

Here in the Garden State, being a second- or third-time DWI or DUI offender does not garner much sympathy from the police or our courts. The same can be said for most other parts of the country. Take, for instance, the story of an out-of-state driver dubbed by the prosecution as the “Grim Reaper,” who was sentenced to 13 years in jail after being convicted of his eighth drunken driving offense.

Based on news reports, 43-year-old Timothy Morrow of Round Lake Beach, IL, was sentenced last May capping a quarter century of drunken driving arrests and convictions. According to court records, Morrow received his first DWI when he was only 17 years of age. Since that time, the local prosecutor in the drunk driving case against Morrow cited nine other incidents when the defendant was stopped for driving under the influence of alcohol, as well as two others involving boating under the influence (also known as BUI).

While four of the 12 DWI arrests ended with either a not-guilty verdict or having the charges dropped or reduced, the prosecution told the court that it defied logic that an motorist who had been arrested for drunk driving on 10 different occasions would continue to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. According to the prosecutor, Ben Dillon, “It is clear this defendant just doesn’t get it and doesn’t care.”

This latest sentence of more than a dozen years in jail is not the first that Mr. Morrow has experienced; twice in the past he has spent time behind bars — once in 1995 for DUI, then again in 1996 for operating a motor vehicle while on a revoked driver’s license. At the time of the latest arrest, the man had only 10 days earlier been charged with public intoxication.

Convicted last October of his eight DWI — the jury found him not guilty of fleeing and eluding an officer, among others — the prosecution requested a 15-year jail sentence, referring to the defendant as an “absolute public safety risk.” In response, the defense asked the court for a reduced, six-year sentence with one of the reasons from the defendant being that he has a 12-year-old son who he wants to see grow up.

After stating that he was sorry and that he was abused as a child, the defendant admitted that he made a mistake. However, the judge was apparently unmoved saying prior to sentencing that the defendant has made “mistake after mistake after mistake, for 25 years. Though the history of drunk driving offenses may seem excessive in case, it is hardly unusual when one considers the millions of people who are arrested time and time again for drinking and driving in this country. When it comes to personal responsibility, it has to be said that it is often folly to think one can push back against the law over and over without some harsh kind of repercussion down the line.

‘Grim Reaper’ sentenced to 13 years for eighth DUI, ChicagoTribune.com, May 2, 2013