YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A substance abuse counselor who pleaded guilty to driving drunk and causing an accident that injured another driver was sentenced Tuesday to 15 months in prison.
Brian Williams, 47, received the sentence in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court from Judge Maureen Sweeney on charges of vehicular assault and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Williams pleaded guilty to the charges in October. The charges stem from a January 7 crash at Tippecanoe and Leffingwell roads in Canfield Township. Police said a car Williams was driving collided with another car, and the driver of the other car said he broke both legs and had severe injuries to his wrist and hands.
Williams’ blood alcohol content was .242, reports said. In Ohio, a person is considered drunk if their BAC is .08.
Assistant Prosecutor Nick Brevetta asked for a maximum sentence of 18 months, although he said he would not oppose early release depending on Williams’ behavior in prison. Brevetta said a maximum sentence was necessary because as a former addict and now a counselor, no one knows better than Williams that alcohol and driving do not go together.
“To be frank, your honor, Mr. Williams should know better than anybody else what could happen if you get in a car under the influence of alcohol,” Brevetta said as Williams, who was free on bond, nodded his head in agreement.
Defense attorney Ron Yarwood asked for a sentence of probation or a sentence of six months or less if Judge Sweeney thought prison was necessary. He said his client accepted responsibility and was doing well battling his addictions, so much so that he was counseling other addicts. Yarwood said Williams should not be penalized extra because he is supposed to know better.
“Sometimes better isn’t enough,” Yarwood said. “I don’t think it’s enough that he knows better.”
Williams said that because of family and personal issues in his life, he began abusing alcohol again even after counseling others to stay away from alcohol.
“Because my heart was so involved to help people, I forgot to take care of myself,” Williams said.
Williams said he deeply regrets causing an injury to another person and said he still wants to help people. Judge Sweeney told him that kind of attitude will count greatly toward an early release from prison.
Williams also agreed with Brevetta and said he should have known better than to drink and drive.