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West Olive man gets jail time for drunk driving crash

Becky Vargo • Updated May 2, 2017 at 7:15 PM

Jesse Lara said that he thanked God that he was arrested so that he could start getting help for his drinking problem.

Lara, 55, told Ottawa County Circuit Judge Karen Miedema on Monday that he was attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, as well as the Bible Pod, while incarcerated at the Ottawa County Jail since his arrest on March 5.

The West Olive man faced up to five years in jail for operating while impaired, driving on a suspended license and failure to report an accident. But he pleaded guilty to the drunken driving charge in April, in an agreement to which the other charges would be dismissed at sentencing.

Lara was sentenced to 60 days in jail during Monday’s court hearing before Miedema. He was given credit for 57 days already served in jail.

Lara will also be on probation for two years and must complete 60 days of community service. He was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and his vehicle was ordered immobilized for one year. 

Lara must also pay restitution for damage to the gas station building. A bid on the work for $8,300 was produced during the court hearing, but defense attorney Robert Hamilton requested a restitution hearing, noting that his client was on disability, and after paying child support, had just over $400 a month to pay the rest of his expenses.

In a prior court hearing, Lara admitted drinking some beer on March 5 before driving his SUV to Stanton Corners at U.S. 31 and Stanton Street in Port Sheldon Township. A family member said the brakes went out on the vehicle, and that’s why it crashed into the building. Unfortunately, Lara had consumed the alcohol prior to that event, they said.

Lara registered a 0.14 blood alcohol level when he was tested by authorities.

Lara has prior alcohol convictions in 1988 and 1989.

Related: West Olive man admits drinking before his vehicle strikes building

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