GRAND ISLE: A Highgate man was sentenced to serve at least the next two years in prison after being convicted of DUI #5 in Grand Isle County.
According to the State’s Attorney for Grand Isle County, Douglas DiSabito, police were called to the report of a vehicle off the roadway in Alburgh on September 21st, 2018, around 6:15 pm. When police and rescue crews arrived, they discovered Richard Leahy, of Highgate sitting inside his vehicle.
Initially, Leahy told police that he was a passenger in the vehicle and that his then-girlfriend had been driving. He explaining to police that someone had stopped and given his girlfriend a ride back to their house while Leahy stayed with the vehicle.
“This turned out to be false, and when Mr. Leahy was arrested for DUI,” DiSabito said in a written statement to the press. Leahy refused to provide an evidentiary breath test, according to the State’s Attorney.
A jury found Leahy guilty in September, and on January 9th he was sentenced to 2 to 9 years to serve in prison on the charges of DUI #4 (or more), DUI #4 (or more) Refusal, and False Information to a Law Enforcement Officer.
Leahy has three prior convictions for DUI or DWI, according to court records. Those include convictions dating back to 1995 when he was arrested in Brevard County, Florida.
“Habitual drunk drivers tend to be more aggressive and hostile than other drivers, don’t view drunk driving as a serious issue, and rarely feel too impaired to drive.”– Douglas DiSabito, Grand Isle State’s Attorney
He was since convicted of DUI #1 in Chittenden County in 2000, DUI #2 in Chittenden County in 2001, DUI #3 in Franklin County in 2009, and DUI #3 (or subsequent) in Franklin County in 2017.
Leahy’s involvement with law enforcement doesn’t stop with DUI and DWI charges. Records show he was arrested in 2017 for domestic assault and 2014 for driving with a criminally suspended license. Sprinkled throughout his records are several charges of violating conditions of release too.
“The totality of the circumstances of this event, together with his record of DUIs, makes it abundantly clear that Mr. Leahy fails to recognize the dangers of driving under the influence. He does not view it as a serious issue.” DiSabito said in a written statement this week, ” This is about public safety, deterrence (both General and Specific), as well as rehabilitation. I would submit that unlicensed and habitual drunk drivers, like Mr. Leahy, are among the greatest safety threats on our roadways and highways in Vermont. Mr. Leahy has continued not only to drive without a license, but he does so while drunk. I have prosecuted numerous DUI’s in my time as State’s Attorney and watched dozens of dashcam and bodycam of intoxicated drivers.”
The State had initially sought a sentence of three and a half to seven years to serve, but the Superior Court Judge in the case decided on two to six years to serve, siding mostly with the state as the defense argued for probation without any jail time.
“The public MUST be kept safe from habitual drunk drivers, like Mr. Leahy. Habitual Drunk Drivers MUST be deterred from this type of criminal behavior. And Mr. Leahy MUST get his alcohol use under control if he can, but it appears from his criminal record that over a 25-year period, he has failed to do so,” said DiSabito.