Branch man jailed for felony drunk driving.

April 23, 2019

Eric Yeager and attorney Tracie Dinehart

Branch man jailed for felony drunk driving.

Editor’s Note: An earlier story about this case contained an error in the headline and lead paragraph stating that Mr. Yeager is convicted of seven drunk driving offenses. He is convicted of eight alcohol-related offenses including four for drunk driving. Extending an apology to Mr. Yeager and positive thoughts for successful treatment.

LUDINGTON – A 35-year-old Branch Township man was sentenced to serve 30 days up front of a one-year discretionary jail term in 51st Circuit Court Tuesday, April 23, for his eighth alcohol-related conviction.

Eric Nelson Yeager, of 7862 E. Navajo Trail, has convictions dating back to 2003, said Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola, with his most recent conviction of third-offense operating while intoxicated March 12.

Yeager’s criminal history includes: OWI in Mason County’s 79th District Court Sept. 9, 2003; second-offense OWI in 79th District Court May 3, 2005; third-offense OWI in 51st Circuit Court May 12, 2009; third-offense OWI in 51st Circuit Court March 12, 2019; three minor in possession convictions; and one citation for open intoxicants, according to Spaniola.

“It’s apparent that alcohol is Mr. Yeager’s downfall,” Spaniola said. Yeager is employed as a well driller, it’s common in that profession for someone who “works very, very hard and plays very, very hard.”

During his most recent arrest, Yeager’s blood alcohol content was .21, the prosecutor said.

If Yeager gets another drunk driving conviction, “it will probably lead to the loss of his job and a substantial MDOC (Michigan Department of Corrections) term,” he said.

“He understands the severity of the (conviction),” said Yeager’s attorney Tracie Dinehart, adding that her client has undergone “substantial treatment” for his alcohol problem.

Dinehart said Yeager has been diagnosed with a “severe alcohol disorder.”

“It is very evident that Mr. Yeager has a problem with alcohol,” his attorney said. “He realizes (treatment) will be a life-long endeavor. This is the first time he’s been sober for a long time.”

“Mr. Yeager clearly has an alcohol abuse history,” said Judge Susan K. Sniegowski. “Treatment is being looked at as an alternative to jail time. Any indication that you’re drinking is going to change the nature of this case,” warning him that he will go to jail.

He was also ordered to five years probation, remote alcohol monitoring, one year of vehicle immobilization and 480 hours of community service. He was given credit for two days served in jail.

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