Woman gets probation, jail time, for drunken-driving incident

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Frank Schultz
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

JANESVILLE -- A woman who drove drunk in March and inflicted severe injuries on a Janesville pedestrian was sentenced Tuesday in Rock County Court to one year of probation with 45 days in jail.

As part of a plea agreement, a felony charge against Michelle L. Kremske, 46, of 1518 Laurel Ave., Janesville, was reduced to a misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated/causing injury.

A charge of causing great bodily harm by driving with prohibited alcohol concentration was dismissed but considered at sentencing.

The victim, Kenneth Clark, 56, suffered intense pain, numerous bone fractures and disabling brain injury from the crash March 4 at Court and Wisconsin streets, according to court documents.

Police found Clark face-down in the street and believed he was hit while in the crosswalk at the intersection, according to the criminal complaint.

A passenger in Kremske's van, who also appeared intoxicated, said he never saw Clark, according to the complaint.

Police said the intersection is lighted, and Kremske told them her wipers were not very good, according to the complaint.

Clark's foot appeared to be almost torn off, according to the complaint.

Kremske originally was charged with felony injury by intoxicated driving, a charge that carries a maximum prison sentence of 12 years and six months.

But Assistant District Attorney Scott Dirks said in court Tuesday that if the case had gone to trial, prosecutors would have been hard pressed to defeat the argument that the same result would have occurred with a sober driver in those conditions, which included darkness and rain.

Dirks called the agreement “a compromise based on facts.”

“You are as fortunate as fortunate can be that you are not sitting here facing a felony conviction,” Judge John Wood told Kremske.

The plea agreement called for 30 days in jail, but Wood increased that by 15 days. He also made Kremske eligible to serve her jail time with release time for work and alcohol treatment and at home on a monitoring bracelet.

The sheriff will decided whether she is allowed the bracelet.

The victim's sister, Christine Clark, told the court that although Kremske stopped and called police, the accident should never have happened.

Clark said her brother needed numerous surgeries on his leg and jaw, suffered brain trauma and still faces a long road to recovery.

Kremske should be held responsible for her actions, Christine Clark said.

Wood said Kenneth Clark suffered such great psychological impact that a guardian had to be appointed for him.

“To say you changed his life forever is an understatement,” Wood said.

Kremske was returning home from a bar and registered a blood alcohol concentration of 0.119.

Wood said he took comfort in the fact that the family agreed to the plea agreement. He noted Kremske had never been convicted of a crime, works, supports her children and mother and appears remorseful.

“You are very fortunate you didn't kill someone by your conduct,” Wood said.

Wood also ordered $500 in fines for the misdemeanor and for driving without insurance, plus court costs. He noted she would be paying much more for the required alcohol/drug treatment he ordered.

Kremske also could be ordered to pay restitution, an issue the court will consider later.

Wood also revoked Kremske's license for a year, followed by a year of ignition interlock, a device that checks the alcohol level of a breath sample before allowing her car to start.

“I'm very sorry for what I've caused Kenneth Clark and his family, and I promise it will never happen again,” Kremske told Wood.

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