The man’s latest infraction occurred July 2 on Harbor Drive in Grand Haven.
Harry Sakjas Jr., 58, of Garden City was Monday ordered to serve 3-5 years in prison, despite his attorney’s conviction that his client was finally changing his attitude and his ways.
Judge Jon Hulsing didn’t agree.
“This is your 12th conviction for operating impaired” from either a controlled substance or alcohol, Hulsing said to Sakjas. “You just don’t get it.”
The sentencing guidelines don’t take into account the repetitive nature of Sakjas’ actions, or the four times he went to prison for operating impaired — in 1998, 2009, 2010 and 2015, the judge said.
“You’re not going to kill people on my watch,” the judge said, noting his reasons for going above the sentencing guidelines.
Hulsing said this was the strongest sentence that he could impose on Sakjas, given the criteria.
“I wish I could impose more on you, but I can’t,” the judge told him.
On Aug. 27, Sakjas entered a guilty plea to a charge of third-offense drunken driving. In exchange for the plea, the Ottawa County Prosecutor’s Office, at the time of sentencing, dismissed the following charges: driving on a suspended license, second offense; driving a vehicle without insurance; and being a habitual offender.
Officials noted at the plea hearing that Sakjas’ blood alcohol level at the time of his arrest was 0.18. A person is considered legally drunk in Michigan at 0.08.
Sakjas’ attorney noted that most of his client’s offenses were related to prescription drugs, not alcohol. He also said that Sakjas had been participating in several programs while housed at the Ottawa County Jail.
The attorney requested a recovery treatment program for his client.
Sakjas apologized for his actions. He said that his mother died while he was in prison and he did not want to be in prison when he lost his father. He also noted that he has a child graduating in 2019 and did not want to miss that event.
“I did have an issue with my prescription medication that I became addicted to,” Sakjas said. “I take full responsibility.”
Hulsing said that he felt bad for Sakjas’ family, but “at this stage I have zero concern for you.”