Judge commends SL woman for journey to sobriety

Becky Vargo • Oct 24, 2018 at 11:00 AM

Ottawa County Circuit Judge Jon Hulsing called a Spring Lake woman’s progress along her journey to long-term sobriety “outstanding” before he sentenced her to mandatory jail time for drunken driving.

Debra Kortman, 49, was allowed to enter a guilty plea to second-offense drunken driving in exchange for a third-offense charge to be dismissed.

If Kortman successfully completes Drug Court, Hulsing said the second-offense charge becomes official and she will only have to serve five days in jail. If she does not complete the program, the charge remains a third offense, and Kortman must then serve an additional 25 days in jail.

Hulsing also ordered Kortman to complete community service as directed by the probation department and pay a $1,000 fine. She will also be on probation for 18 months.

Kortman was given credit for two days already served in jail and the judge allowed her to serve the remaining days on Fridays so that she can continue to work.

Kortman was arrested April 2 in Ferrysburg for drunken driving. 

On Monday, she told the judge that she has social anxiety and was using alcohol before doing almost anything in the public, including going to the grocery store.

“I often tell myself, I’ve raised three children drunk. Why should I change now?” Kortman said.

But, as scary as it has been, Kortman said she has maintained sobriety for more than 200 days with the help of her support group.

Kortman said that she is amazed that there are people out there who understand, who are willing to help and who don’t look down on her.

“I need my support people,” she said. “I need to continue my new journey.”

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