A Shobonier man who had nine prior convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol, as well as numerous convictions for driving while his license is revoked, has agreed to a 13-year prison sentence.
John M. Hemmer, 49, pleaded guilty last Thursday to a charge of aggravated DUI and was sentenced by Associate Judge James L. Roberts.
Roberts was arrested shortly before 10 a.m. on April 6 at First and Gallatin streets for driving under the influence of alcohol and for unlawful possession of a vehicle title document without complete assignment.
Two days later, the office of Fayette County State’s Attorney Joshua Morrison filed information charging Hemmer with the title offense and aggravated DUI.
The DUI charge alleged that Hemmer’s blood-alcohol content was above .016, or double the legal limit, that he had nine prior DUI convictions and that his driving privileges had been revoked.
The aggravated DUI charge is a Class X felony charge punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
In Fayette County alone, Hemmer had previously been convicted four times for driving while his license is revoked. He was given prison sentences of two years, two years, 30 months and four years.
Morrison said that under state law, a fourth DUI results in a lifetime license revocation.
Hemmer’s record also includes a 1986 conviction and 10-year prison sentence in Cook County for involuntary manslaughter/reckless homicide, as well as a two-year prison sentence in Bond County for aggravated DUI.
In the information on the charge for driving while his license is revoked, it’s stated that Hemmer had previously been convicted 13 times for driving while his license was revoked or suspended.
That charge, a Class 3 felony, was dismissed as a result of the plea bargaining.
Hemmer was also sentenced to two years in prison for a drug offense, according to Morrison.
“This is a victory for Fayette County,” Morrison said.
The plea agreement, he said, “saves the taxpayers money and also punishes somebody who broke the law.”
While some may contend that Hemmer should receive a stiffer penalty, Morrison said, it “is more than double than what he’s ever been in prison for previous DUI’s.
“It’s also important to note that 13 years is more than he got for killing someone,” Morrison said, who added that Hemmer approached his attorney, Fayette County Public Defender Ed Potter about starting negotiations on a plea agreement.
Roberts’ sentence order also stipulated that Hemmer forfeit the 1991 Chevrolet S-10 pickup that he was driving at the time of his April arrest.
Hemmer also was fined $5,000, in accordance with state statutes.
Roberts noted in his docket entry that Hemmer’s pretrial incarceration credit of $135 would be applied toward that fine.
He also noted that the “balance of the fine (is) vacated and deemed uncollectible.”