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Norristown Resident Avoids Jail Despite Four Duis In A Year

54-year-old Nicholas Chaban was more than twice the legal limit of alcohol with a side of cocaine when he got a DUI citation in December 2013.

He was cited 3 more times by September.

On Friday, Former chief financial officer for the Philadelphia health-care provider Mazzoni Center, Chaban pleaded guilty to all 4 DUIs, as well as trespassing and drug-possession charges that came in the month of May after he was bounced from a Conshohocken bar.

According to Montgomery County Court Judge, Cheryl Austin, “I’ve got five files in front of me. That’s a record”.

He is still not going to jail. The Norristown resident was sentenced to time served, inpatient rehab, and 2 years of probation. The judge cannot give him a higher sentence than that.

Under a state law that has been altered since Chaban was charged, each of his drunken-driving crimes counted as a 1st DUI offense due to the reason that all happened before he was sentenced for the 1st arrest.

Assistant District Attorney Bradford Richman, head of the year-old DUI unit in the prosecutor’s office said, “This guy’s exceedingly lucky he didn’t kill somebody”.

Chaban was taken into custody in Conshohocken in the month of July twice within a week for driving under the influence of alcohol. The 2nd time he was arrested, he drove into 6 parked motor vehicles.

In 2 separate incidents, his BAC level increased to 0.16 percent which is double the legal definition of drunken driving. In the month of September, he drove away from a crash in Whitpain Township and into a fence. He stayed in prison after that incident until Friday’s hearing.

On 31st of December, changes to the law went into effect. They ensure that multiple DUIs are counted as subsequent offenses and carry increasingly harsher penalties even if they happen before a defendant has been convicted or sentenced for a first offense.

During Friday’s sentencing, the judge said that she could have sent Chaban to state prison if the offenses had occurred this year.

Montgomery County has also altered the way it handles habitual drunken drivers. A repeat offender’s DUI cases are now all assigned to one prosecutor. The office is also increasing its struggles to revoke bail for individuals who are taken into custody on a second DUI. Richman told that in some cases, prosecutors ask judges to make operating a vehicle a bail violation and seek to have defendants surrender their driver’s licenses as a bail condition.

Chaban was wearing a denim prison jacket at the hearing, didn’t speak at length. His attorney, Vincent Cirillo, described him as a family man in crisis. Marital issues, an elderly father and job related depression contributed to a breakdown, according to him. “At some point in time, anyone can really hit a breaking point and basically go over the edge”.

Chaban has two master’s degrees and a history of driving under the influence of alcohol with 2 arrests between the year 1984 and 2002.

Additional legislation is in the works to keep drunken drivers off the road and away from other drivers. Mothers Against Drunk Driving is supporting state bills to require that an interlock system be installed for 6 months in first-time offender’s vehicles. A similar law is awaiting Gov. Christie’s signature in New Jersey.

Frank Harris, MADD’s director of state government affairs said, “It teaches sober driving behavior that license suspension alone just can’t”.

News Source: Philly.com

Leckerman