In an interesting bid to save his job as a Mesa, AZ councilman, Ryan Winkle has accepted a plea deal substantially more punitive in nature than one typically receives on the same charges. The act seems to be one of self-imposed retribution, as Winkle will spend six days in Lower Buckeye Jail and 49 days of home detention. A normal sentencing for such charges would see the individual spend four days in jail, with just five days of home detention. The home detention is not absolute - Winkle will be allowed to leave his home 12 hours a day.
Winkle's attorney, John Phebus, spoke in praise of the plea deal that brought closure for the city of Mesa, calling it “a fair compromise and an absolute resolution.” The circumstances of the DUI lend clarity as to why Winkle accepted a substantially harsher sentencing than most. The councilman was arrested last May with a blood alcohol content at .22. This was his second super extreme DUI in a ten year period, with one prior incident 8 years ago. Shortly before being apprehended in his May DUI, Winkle nearly hit three pedestrians. The length of home detention in the plea deal was enhanced on account of the previous DUI and what his lawyer called "overall evaluation of the case."
The plea deal with the 49 day home detention sentence was the alternative to going to trial, a time-consuming ordeal that would have delayed closure for the city and the councilman himself.
Alternative Sentencing Options in DUI Cases
This case shows creative sentencing options at work, illustrating the ways in which sentencing can be constructive and unique to the case, rather than issuing blanket sentencing for a type of offense. Councilman Winkle has coordinated with the court to arrive at a sentencing alternative that is sufficiently punitive, recidivism-discouraging and flexible with Winkle's job so he may remain professionally productive while being punished for his offense. Had Winkle plead guilty before the judge, a lesser penalty would have applied but would have included probation, in which case Winkle could not carry out his duties as councilman.
Winkle's attorney added, "Councilman Winkle wanted to move forward and wanted to accept responsibility with as little fuss and controversy as possible. Doing so brought closure to himself and the citizens of Mesa and, hopefully, set a good example of the sort of accountability that the councilman expects of himself," Phebus said in a statement.
Next month the council will issue a final decision about Winkle's fate there. He has been on voluntary suspension since the incident and it remains to be seen whether the council will remove him. Winkle told the Arizona Republic that he hopes his colleagues view his case with sympathy, saying, " "Hey, this guy's been put through the wringer. Let's give him a punishment and move on and get some work done.”
A spokesman for Winkle's opposing party, the GOP, is none too pleased with the arrangement, stating "Our position on Councilman Winkle hasn't changed. Even one extreme DUI is too many — this was his second. His behavior was irresponsible and reckless. The city of Mesa deserves better.”
If you have been charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Georgia and fear how it may affect your career, it is essential that you hire an experienced DUI attorney to handle your case immediately. Contact Forsyth County DUI attorney Richard Lawson today for a free consultation.