Patrick Johnson, 51, of Vernon, Vermont was not allowed to plead guilty in his DUI case because the judge in his case deemed him too drunk to enter the plea.
Judge Richard J. Carey ordered the probation department to conduct a blood alcohol test on Johnson after Johnson told the judge that he had ingested six ounces of vodka at 5 a.m., prior to his hearing. Judge Carey ordered Johnson to jail after the blood alcohol test determined that Johnson’s blood alcohol content was 0.28 percent.
Judge Carey ordered Johnson back on March 18 to plead guilty to his third operating under the influence offense.
“Mr. Johnson, simply put, is an alcoholic,” said Johnson’s defense attorney, Marissa Elkin. “[Johnson is] as clear-headed as I have known him to be. Quite frankly it would be quite difficult to get him in here and do a plea where he hasn’t had a drink in the last 24 hours.”
Although Johnson had told Elkin that he believed he was clear-headed enough to plead guilty, Elkin nonetheless informed Judge Carey of Johnson’s early morning drinks because Johnson wanted the judge to know.
Johnson’s case serves as a reminder that alcoholism is a disease that some people simply cannot control. Being taken to jail may have been the only way to ensure that Johnson was sober for his plea.