Third DUI conviction brings six-year prison term

Third DUI conviction brings six-year prison term

URBANA — An Urbana man convicted for a third time of driving under the influence of alcohol was sentenced Wednesday to six years in prison.

A Champaign County jury convicted Mark Winchester, 29, of the 1800 block of Amber Lane, of aggravated DUI in late July for a drunken driving episode that happened a year earlier.

Judge Richard Klaus said Winchester's inability to follow court orders in previous cases and his continued driving after drinking make him a danger to the public.

Assistant State's Attorney Elizabeth Dornik sought a maximum seven-year sentence for Winchester, while his attorney, Don Parkinson of Urbana, asked for a community-based sentence, or in the alternative, boot camp.

"I desperately need and want to stay sober," Winchester told the judge, asking for treatment close to home. "I sincerely regret and apologize for my crime."

Dornik said the charge stemmed from Winchester's July 2, 2013, arrest in Urbana by a University of Illinois police officer. The officer first noticed Winchester driving on Kirby Avenue near Fourth Street about 1 a.m. and described him as extremely focused on his driving. The officer described a circuitous route Winchester took as he headed east, eventually stopping in a parking lot at the Orchard Downs housing complex off South Race Street.

There, the officer found Winchester passed out behind the wheel. He was unable to perform field sobriety tests, Dornik said.

Winchester's prior record included convictions for driving under the influence in Vermilion and Macon counties in 2005 and 2010 as well as others for disorderly conduct, driving under revocation, and resisting arrest.

Acknowledging his client's past indiscretions, Parkinson argued that Winchester had made substantial improvements in his behavior over the years, including maintaining steady employment and supporting a girlfriend and her child. Parkinson argued it's not unusual for an alcoholic to have multiple setbacks before succeeding at sobriety. He noted that no one was hurt and no property was damaged when Winchester drove drunk in July 2013.

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