A Janesville man convicted for the eighth time for intoxicated driving was sentenced to five years in prison in Rock County Court on Tuesday.
Daniel J. Knopes, 60, of 1010 N. Marion Ave., also will be on extended supervision after serving his prison sentence.
Knopes’ supervision on a previous intoxicated-driving case was revoked after his August arrest, and he has started serving one year and 10 months in that case. His new prison term will start after he finishes the revocation sentence.
Eighth-offense intoxicated driving is rare. Only one person was convicted in Rock County of that offense in 2004 through 2018, according to Department of Transportation data, and no one was convicted of a ninth or greater OWI.
Defense attorney Michael Murphy said Knopes had been sober for four years, but he was cleaning the basement one day when he found a bottle of the sedative Xanax in an old coat.
“He made some very poor decisions thereafter, which is frankly Mr. Knopes’ history,” Murphy said.
The poor decisions included drinking beer, according to the criminal complaint.
Police arrested Knopes the morning of Aug. 23 after his car went over a curb and hit a mailbox belonging to the Janesville Fire Department at 435 N. Crosby Ave., according to the complaint.
“He’s got a great work history,” Murphy said of Knopes, who worked at General Motors and SSI. “It’s just when he uses controlled substances, he makes very poor decisions. He considers himself lucky that somebody didn’t get hurt or worse in this case.”
Murphy said Knopes has a lot going for him, including a son who was just named valedictorian of Parker High School’s graduating class and a daughter who excels in school, too.
Knopes apologized for the fear and pain he caused his family and the community and said, “There’s no one to blame but myself.”
He said his parents are in their 80s and might die before he gets out of prison, so he asked for a less-than-maximum sentence. The maximum sentence for the offense is 7.5 years of prison and five years of supervision.
“The public is growing increasingly weary of the drunken driving we see, especially with repeaters,” Judge John Wood said.
Wood said Knopes apparently didn’t get the message sent in his previous convictions. He ordered Knopes to remain sober while on supervision and stay out of bars or any establishment whose primary source of revenue is alcohol sales.
The sentence also includes 24 months of driver’s license revocation and an ignition-interlock device on any cars he owns.
Wood ordered Knopes to pay the city of Janesville $365 restitution, a $600 fine and court costs.