By Jacob Mathias
After being pulled over by police following reports of an intoxicated driver in Bukolt Park, a Stevens Point man faces felony charges for his seventh OWI.
Ira Berman, 58, is charged with his seventh offense of both operating while intoxicated and operating with a prohibited alcohol concentration. Each carries a maximum sentence of up to a $25,000 fine or 10 years imprisonment or both if convicted. As the defendant was convicted of felony intimidation of a victim in August 2013, an additional four years can be added to his maximum prison term as well.
Berman made his initial appearance in Portage County Circuit Court on July 18.
According to court documents, Stevens Point police were called at 11:38 AM when a caller reported an intoxicated man driving a green Pontiac Grand Am in Bukolt Park on June 28. When the officer arrived he followed the vehicle out of the park and onto Bukolt Ave.
The driver then came to a stop sign, turned on his left blinker and pulled into oncoming traffic causing another vehicle to slam on its brakes. The officers then stopped the vehicle.
When the officers approached the driver they recognized him from previous contacts as Berman. When they told the defendant about his driving actions, he was not aware of what happened, and also said he had not been drinking.
When officers told Berman they could smell a strong odor of intoxicants on him, he admitted having “four beers” that morning. Berman also had slurred speech and glassy eyes, according to the complaint.
Berman told officer he guessed his blood-alcohol level was “probably about .10.”
Officers attempted to perform field sobriety tests on Berman, but he stopped the testing and asked to go straight to the breathalyzer test. Officers performed a breathalyzer which indicated a result of .242, over 10 times the defendant’s court imposed legal limit. Berman was arrested and taken to St. Michael’s Hospital for a blood draw. Results of the blood test are not yet available.
Because of the high blood alcohol level, Berman’s applicable fines will be tripled if convicted.
Berman is currently being held on a $20,000 cash bond. If convicted he will be required by law to commence his jail sentence immediately.
Berman returns to court on July 25 at 3:00 PM for a preliminary hearing.