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Iowa man sentenced after arrested with twice the lethal dose of alcohol

This news story was published on December 6, 2012.
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Vanessa Miller, CR Gazette –

A 24-year-old North Liberty man has been ordered to serve a short jail sentence, pay a $1,250 fine and complete drunken driving courses after he was arrested in July on suspicion of driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.627.

Justin A. Clark pleaded guilty to his first operating while intoxicated offense last week. He immediately was sentenced to serve a two-day jail sentence, beginning on Feb. 27, and was ordered to pay a $1,250 fine in monthly installments of at least $50.

Clark also was ordered to successfully complete a 12-hour drinking driver’s course – like the Kirkwood OWI Weekend Program, according to court records.

Clark was arrested after officers caught him behind the wheel of a car in the area of Red Barn Drive in North Liberty just after 10 p.m. July 29, according to a criminal complaint. Neighbors had noticed him acting erratically and driving “all over the road,” hitting curbs and running up into one person’s yard, police reported.

When officers arrived, they found Clark sitting in his running vehicle revving the engine, according to the criminal complaint. An officer approached Clark through his window, but Clark was unable to answer questions clearly or get out of his vehicle and walk on his own, police reported.

He was given a breath test that showed his blood alcohol level at 0.486, police reported. He was hospitalized, and a subsequent blood test showed his alcohol content to be 0.627, according to a complaint.

Local hospital officials said that level could have killed him. Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness said that was the highest level she’d ever seen.

National research indicates that blood alcohol content levels over 0.30 percent can cause a person to slip into a coma or die. To get to 0.627, according to an emergency room doctor with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, a person would have to consume 35 shots, bottles of beer or glasses of wine in four hours.

Before Clark entered his not guilty plea on Nov. 27, an official with the Bayard-based St. Gregory Retreat Center sent a letter to the court indicating that Clark had enrolled himself voluntarily in the seven-week program and completed it successfully on Oct. 26.

“The purpose of the St. Gregory Recovery Program is for Mr. Clark to take personal responsibility for his behavior and for the choices that led to his substance abuse,” Vice President of Operations Clayton Walters wrote in the letter.

During his stay, according to the letter, Clark participated in all his group and individual sessions, seminars and other required events. He completed his homework assignments and “went beyond program requirements in completing 24 hours of community service.”

“Mr. Clark maintained sobriety throughout the entire treatment program,” Walters wrote. “This was verified by random on-site substance screenings.”

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