Joseph Hayes was arrested last year and charged with his 10th DWI, but when the Missouri man went to court to learn his sentencing something unexpected happened — he didn’t get any jail time at all.
The 55-year-old Hayes was arrested in August, 2013 and charged with driving while intoxicated and driving on a revoked license. Police in Florissant, where Hayes was stopped for a traffic violation, said it was the 10th time the man had been arrested for DWI. Hayes also had 10 convictions for driving on a suspended or revoked license.
To make matters worse, Joseph Hayes had a blood alcohol level of.244 when he was picked up, which is three times the legal limit. Though Hayes has served three prison sentences in the past for aggravated DUI, this time a St. Louis County Assistant Prosecutor offered a plea deal that kept him out of prison and gave him only probation.
The decision sparked controversy online, with local coverage getting picked up by a number of national outlets and a link to the story gaining hundreds of user votes on the link-sharing site Reddit.
“He’s still going to be out doing what he wants to do and it’s not fair to safe drivers,” Britnee Carter told Fox2Now in St. Louis.
The Florissant police department also seemed to disagree with the decision. The department found a way to work Hayes into a message to drivers about refraining from drinking and driving during the holiday.
Florissant Police Officer Andy Haarmann issued the following statement:
“As we are entering the Holiday Season, we will see an increased amount of intoxicated drivers on our roadways. This type of activity must stop, and persistent offenders must get the necessary treatment to change their attitudes on drinking and driving. Hopefully Mr. Hayes receives such treatment, so this type of incident does not happen again. It is the hope of the Florissant Police Department- like all police departments-that people make the right decisions when they drink and they decide not to drive.”
For his part, Hayes has tried to turn around his ways. His attorney, Joel Schwartz, said that Hayes has gone a year without drinking and still has a full-time job.
While he may have avoided prison for his 10th DWI sentence, Joseph Hayes not be fully in the clear. He will be required to wear a SCRAM ankle bracelet for the next five years, one that monitors the skin and is set off if a person has been drinking.