82-year-old sentenced to 3 years for DUI

82-year-old sentenced to 3 years for DUI

URBANA — An 82-year-old Champaign woman convicted for the third time of driving under the influence has been sentenced to three years in prison.

Champaign County Judge Richard Klaus imposed the sentenced on Helen C. Vedder, who listed an address on Stanford Place, after Assistant State's Attorney Elizabeth Dornik said she objected to Vedder receiving drug court probation.

Vedder pleaded guilty in May to a single count of aggravated driving under the influence, admitting that she was drunk on Nov. 9 when she drove her car into a parked car in the 1800 block of Peach Street in Champaign, then tried to drive away.

Dornik said Vedder admitted to police that she had consumed two shot-sized bottles of vodka that she had just purchased at a liquor store on her way home from church.

Her blood alcohol level was 0.19 percent, more than double the 0.08 percent limit for an Illinois motorist to be presumed intoxicated.

In exchange for her guilty plea to that DUI, Dornik agreed to dismiss another aggravated DUI charge that Vedder had received weeks after her November arrest.

However, Dornik presented evidence that on Dec. 25, Vedder was southbound on State Street in Champaign when she allegedly ran a red light at Springfield Avenue and ran into a car driven by Clara Jeong, 30, of Urbana, who was turning south on to State Street. In that case, Vedder's blood alcohol concentration was 0.17 percent. Jeong was not seriously injured.

Dornik also had Champaign police officer Pat Simons testify that on April 25, he saw Vedder, who is a neighbor, driving down their street. Vedder did not — and does not — have a valid license because of her prior convictions for DUI.

Dornik sought a five-year prison sentence for Vedder, calling her a "menace to society," while Champaign attorney Mark Lipton recommended that she get probation through the stringent drug court program and be required to continue wearing an alcohol-monitoring device.

Lipton said his client recognizes that she is an alcoholic and has been getting treatment. He argued that the public could be protected from her by continued treatment coupled with the monitoring device.

Because no one was injured in the case to which Vedder pleaded guilty, she is eligible for day-for-day good time on her sentence.

Three years was the minimum amount of prison time Vedder could have received.

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