A Bloomington man with at least a dozen drunken-driving convictions was sentenced to 5½ years in prison Thursday for his 13th offense.
Douglas J. McCready, 40, had a blood alcohol content of 0.24 percent — three times the legal limit for driving in Minnesota — when he was arrested in September after refusing to pull over on Interstate 35W between Arden Hills and Bloomington. A 911 caller spotted McCready’s pickup truck and attached trailer that evening as it was “swerving all over the road,” leading officers on a 13-mile chase that ended at his own driveway.
In the preceding 20 years, McCready had at least 12 drunken-driving convictions, including several that involved levels of drunkenness near or exceeding September’s level, according to court records.
McCready grew emotional while addressing the Hennepin County District courtroom. “I’m guilty for what I did. I’m not gonna deny it or make any excuse for it,” he said. “I apologize for the risk I put the public in. I don’t want people to be afraid of me.”
Nearly 1 in 7 of Minnesota’s 4 million licensed drivers has a drunken-driving conviction, according to a 2014 Department of Public Safety report. More than 100 had at least 10 DWIs, and a few had nearly 20, according to numbers provided to the Star Tribune last fall.
Such cases have led some to ask whether drunken-driving laws are strict enough. But others, including McCready’s family, say a more heavy-handed approach hurts those trying to turn their lives around.
Letters from McCready’s family, friends and employer implored Judge William Koch for leniency, asking him to emphasize treatment over incarceration. At the time of McCready’s arrest, he’d served two years of a four-year prison sentence and was on parole in connection with a 2010 drunken-driving conviction. That stint did not provide the rehabilitation he needed for his alcoholism and mental health issues, his family said.
Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Christina Warren asked for the maximum sentence of six years, calling McCready’s latest offense “more egregious” than previous DWIs because of the length of the chase.
Public defender Doug Myren argued for a much shorter sentence, citing average driving speeds during the course of the chase — 55 to 65 miles per hour.
Koch ruled within sentencing guidelines, which fell between the attorneys’ requests. McCready must serve at least two-thirds of his sentence for the felony DWI charge before becoming eligible for supervised release. He will also serve a concurrent sentence of 15 months for fleeing police, but be credited 145 days for time already served.
McCready could be transferred to St. Cloud prison as soon as Friday, leaving behind an 8-year-old son who has stopped taking his calls.
Family members left the courtroom in tears. They described McCready as a loving father and hard worker who held two jobs as a mechanic to support his family. Childhood trauma and an alcoholic father contributed to his affliction, which he tried to hide from loved ones.
“It’s been a vicious cycle,” said his sister, Denise Puppe. “He’s a stand-up guy; he just won’t [stop] drinking.”
Relatives said they fear that he will not receive the treatment he needs while incarcerated. “You can’t get down to the real reasons for why you are the way you are,” said his wife, Rosalee McCready.
Staff writers Karen Zamora and Stephen Montemayor contributed to this report.