67-year-old Hillsboro man sentenced to three years in prison for eighth offense OWI

VIROQUA, Wis. – Vernon County Circuit Court Judge Darcy Rood sentenced 67-year-old Ronald Joseph Rogers of Hillsboro, Wis. to three years in prison for eighth offense operating while intoxicated. Rogers appeared in Vernon County Circuit Court on Tuesday for sentencing after being found guilty in a jury trial on June 23.

Rogers was charged with OWI after being stopped by a Vernon County Sheriff’s deputy around 10 p.m. on June 7 of 2022 because his pickup had no taillights. The deputy states in the criminal complaint that Rogers told him he recently had the truck lights repaired but they had gone out again. The deputy reported he could smell alcohol and administered a field sobriety test, which Rogers failed. The deputy also found cans of unopened beer in the vehicle and a baggy or what turned out the be marijuana. The deputy also noted in the complaint that because Rogers had seven previous convictions for OWI he had a blood alcohol restriction of .02, which is lower than the standard legal limit of .08. Rogers did submit to a blood draw and that later showed he was over both the .02 and .08 limits.

At sentencing Judge Rood informed Rogers that eighth offense OWI carried a minimum sentence of three years in prison and a maximum of 12 and a half years. It also carried a possible fine of up to $25,000 and a lifetime license revocation.

Assistant Vernon County District Attorney Jasmine Betancourt asked for the minimum sentence of three years of initial confinement with three years of extended supervision.

Roger’s defense attorney, Ransom Springer, said he agreed the minimum sentence was appropriate but also pointed out that Rogers previous OWI’s were from some time ago. The last two were in 2010 and 2003, but six of them were in the early 90’s.

“Essentially for the last 30 years Mr. Rogers has had two OWI’s,” said Springer. “Furthermore, largely for the same reasons I outlined in my motion to reconsider a stay pending an appeal, Mr. Rogers personal life I think also cautions in favor of the minimums in this case.”

Rogers told Judge Rood he had a number of personal issues going on and he knew he had made a bad decision. Rogers said his wife had health issues and had to have treatment for mental health issues in the recent past. Rogers said he and his wifr lost their home in Lone Rock after 22 years and were finally able to get housing in Hillsboro just recently.

“We were getting back on our feet, and this is kinda bad for her that I was stupid enough to do this,” said Rogers.

“Yes, its really unfortunate,” said Rood. “But I do have to say, and I’m not saying that this is true in this case, but generally the statistics show a person has probably driven a number of times before they get caught.”

Rogers said his health had improved since his arrest because he has stopped drinking and smoking.

“I am glad this forced sobriety has helped,” said Rood. “But when you drive drunk, even though you are not driving badly, and you probably have a tremendous tolerance for alcohol, because you weren’t driving badly, but the public is really in danger by your drunk driving. And thank heavens nothing did happen because then you would be in even a worse situation.”

Rood said alcohol treatment would be available in prison.

“Unfortunately there are consequences to making these choices” said Rood. “I’m glad it has been a long time since you had an OWI, but it sounds like it hadn’t been a long time since you were drinking.”

Rogers said he knows he needs treatment and was hopeful it would help him to stay sober.

“Well it will probably kill you, if you don’t,” said Rood “And there does need to be consequences to protect the public, and this has impacted your life, and your wife’s life.”

Rood sentenced Rogers to three years in prison and three years of extended supervision after release and a fine of $5,000. Rood also required Rogers to comply with AODA assessments and treatment.

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