A misunderstanding during an Island Lake man’s sentencing hearing on drunken driving charges has landed the felony DUI case back in McHenry County court, where he will be sentenced for the second time in November.
Michael E. Smith received a
12-year prison sentence Feb. 9 for aggravated DUI. The charges stemmed from a Nov. 11, 2014, crash during which Smith drove into oncoming traffic and collided with a car full of teenage boys.
Smith, 51, pleaded guilty to four separate counts of aggravated driving under the influence, which carried different penalties based on the language of the charge. At the time, prosecutors and Smith’s defense attorney believed individual sentences on each count were required to be served consecutively. The misunderstanding led now-retired McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather to order Smith to serve two six-year sentences, one after the other, for two of the DUI charges.
Prather later vacated the sentences, claiming they couldn’t be served consecutively as she had previously ordered because the charges allege the same crime, Smith’s attorney Jed Stone wrote in an April 5 court filing.
Stone attempted to appeal Prather’s decision to vacate the sentence and argued that Smith should only be required to serve one six-year sentence with credit for time served.
The attorney ultimately withdrew the appeal, however, and opted instead to file a motion asking a McHenry County judge to reconsider Prather’s ruling. Judge Michael Coppedge denied the request Friday, and set a new sentencing date for Nov. 8.
The day of the crash, Smith had been drinking at the Twisted Moose near McHenry, where he had 10 beers and took 10 shots of liquor, prosecutors said.
Smith left the bar and drove his Ford Ranger in the wrong lane of traffic on River Road near McHenry and collided with a Dodge Neon that was carrying four teenage passengers. Two of the teenagers were seriously injured as a result of the crash.
Police later learned that Smith’s blood-alcohol level was 0.225% the night of the crash. His license also had been revoked, and Smith had three prior violations for driving under the influence of alcohol, prosecutors have said.