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Repeat DWI offender spurns alcohol rehab in favor of jail time

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CANTON — Jerry M. Hayes was offered rehabilitation on Tuesday. He chose jail instead.

“You don’t have the skills to stop drinking,” St. Lawrence County Judge Jerome J. Richards told Mr. Hayes, who was in court for consuming alcohol in violation of his probation under a 2009 driving while intoxicated conviction.

Judge Richards vacated Mr. Hayes’ probation and sentenced him to one year in county jail. He also predicted that Mr. Hayes — who he said has been convicted of five DWI offenses, including two felonies — would return to the bottle after incarceration if he spurned treatment.

“I will be the exception, sir,” replied Mr. Hayes, 54, of Colton.

“I’m going to remind you of this conversation if we meet in here again,” the judge said.

In June 2009, Mr. Hayes was charged by Potsdam village police with aggravated DWI on Pierrepont Avenue. He also was charged with passing a red light. His blood alcohol content was 0.18 percent, the legal threshold for aggravated DWI. A BAC of 0.08 percent or more constitutes intoxication under state law.

Mr. Hayes pleaded guilty to a felony count of DWI in December 2009, under a plea agreement in which he faced a sentence of five days in county jail and five years’ probation.

In November 2004, Mr. Hayes pleaded guilty to felony DWI for driving drunk Sept. 6 on Route 56, Norfolk. He was fined $1,000, sentenced to five years’ probation and was ordered to pay $295 in court fees.

On March 30 of this year, Mr. Hayes submitted a urine sample that tested positive for alcohol. In April, the judge recounted, he admitted “having a couple of beers” because he was depressed. In October, he admitted to a parole officer to consuming several “non-alcoholic” beers each week.

Judge Richards pointed out that despite their nickname, such brews do contain small amounts of alcohol, which Mr. Hayes acknowledged.

“Yes, less than 1 percent by volume,” he said.

That earned a stern rebuke from the bench about the probation terms set nearly three years ago.

“It’s not, ‘a little bit is OK,’” the judge replied.

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