Recently Mike Nichols of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel called me about my client who was recently severely injured in an auto accident in Waukesha, WI. I shouldn’t use the word accident because the drunk driver that caused the collision must have known that terrible things would happen if he drove drunk again. As you’ll read he’s a habitual offender. Mike and I ask the same question: Why wasn’t this drunk driver in prison months/years ago?
Oddity in Law Benefits Repeat Traffic Offender
|An article by Mike Nichols as it appeared in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on January 18, 2008.|
The last thing 24-year-old Timothy Thompson remembers was driving north past the Hummer dealership near Milwaukee’s Good Hope Road on Highway 41/45, he told police.It was almost midnight on Jan. 8, and he was on his way to Fond du Lac to visit a friend.Next thing he knew, his windshield was smashed, the air bag had gone off, a woman was asking him if he was all right and paramedics were cutting his sweatshirt off. And he was, to borrow a phrase he used while being interviewed by an officer at Froedtert Hospital after a head-on collision with a guy prosecutors believe was going the wrong way, “freezing” his “ass off.”
Among his injuries: a fractured right hand, a broken left arm, a broken jaw that would need to be wired, two injured ankles and a neck injury.
Lucky to be alive, he had no idea what or who had hit him.
The answer, according to police and a criminal complaint:
John D. Cimermancic – a 25-year-old Richfield man with a traffic record nearly as lengthy as the miles-long stretch of northbound highway on which he, police and prosecutors allege, drunkenly traveled south.
Waukesha County prosecutors have charged Cimermancic with a felony, intoxicated use of a vehicle causing great bodily harm, and two misdemeanors: second offense drunken driving and operating a vehicle after revocation for the third time.
What they didn’t note in the criminal complaint – and may not even know because of an oddity of Wisconsin law – is this:
According to records from various county circuit courts and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Cimermancic has actually been charged with either operating after revocation or operating while his license was suspended a total of 22 times – an impressive number for a guy who turns only 26 today and has spent a long stretch living outside the state.
At least 18 of those cases – some of which were violations of municipal ordinances, some violations of state statutes – resulted in convictions. And that doesn’t even begin to count all the other citations he has received.
It’s unclear if the Waukesha prosecutor who has charged Cimermancic for the Jan. 8 incident is aware of the background because he didn’t return a call.
But it would make sense if he isn’t. With the exception of alcohol-related offenses, the Department of Transportation reports traffic convictions for only the last five years. And state law makes it clear that only offenses within that period are relevant for judges.
Lucky for Cimermancic.
Free on $1,500 bail, he hasn’t entered a plea yet. His attorney, Dan Fay, defended him in an interview by questioning whether he was the one who was driving the wrong way Jan. 8.
Jonathan Groth, Thompson’s attorney, responded with astonishment in his voice.
“My guy,” he said, “was sober as can be.”
Groth noted that Cimermancic has “one hell of a record” and added that it is “more than a little shocking” he could still have been on the road on the night of the crash – a night, Thompson told police, he never even saw Cimermancic coming.
Shouldn’t – given the long history – somebody have?