Multiple drunken-driving convictions land man 2-7 years in prison

Eric Mikulen, at left, stands during his sentencing hearing Friday in 35th Circuit Court.

CORUNNA — A Cohoctah man was sentenced to prison Friday by 35th Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart for his fifth drunken-driving conviction.

Eric Mikulen, 55, was sentenced to two years, four months to 7 1/2 years in prison for a third-offense OWI, and ordered to pay court costs and fines.

Stewart also ordered Mikulen’s driver’s license revoked, and for the man to undergo substance abuse counseling while serving his sentence. Mikulen was credited with three days served.

Stewart told Mikulen he was lucky he hadn’t been to prison after any of his previous convictions.

“You do two things you should not do when you drink,” Stewart said. “You hurt people and you drive, and that’s clear. The court’s got a job to do, and that’s to protect the community. As I review your record, your last felony drunken-driving got you one year in the county jail. This court follows a punitive system of punishment, and that means if you do the same crime, you don’t get less, you get more … When you get out again, I’d suggest you think twice before putting that bottle up to your mouth.”

Mikulen declined to speak, saying only, “I guess my record speaks for itself.”

Mikulen was arrested after he crashed his car while intoxicated in October 2018. He immediately posted a bond and was released.

Mikulen was arraigned Jan. 8, 2019, before 66th District Court Judge Ward Clarkson; he pleaded not guilty. According to court records, Mikulen posted a $5,000 bond and has been free since that time while awaiting disposition of his case.

Mikulen also was charged with driving with a suspended license and open intoxicant in a vehicle, both misdemeanors, but those charges were dropped due to an April 4 plea agreement with prosecutors.

Friday, Mikulen’s attorney Stephen LaCommare told the court his client was prepared to be sentenced after originally asking for a chance to be sentenced to drug court in Livingston County, where Mikulen resides.

LaCommare noted his client had numerous prior alcohol-related convictions, but asked for a short prison term, since his client wished to expedite proceedings.

“This man has a major, major alcohol problem,” LaCommare said. “When he’s not drinking, he’s a 30-year employee of Ford. But when he drinks, he does some terrible things and puts the public at risk. Unfortunately, he has done that before and he has dealt with that… The last time he had a drunken-driving third, he did a year in the county jail with work release. He had about 10 years of no convictions… He’s never been to prison. I hope this is a wake-up call for him.”

Assistant prosecutor Adam Masserang asked the court for a sentence near the top of guidelines due to Mikulen’s record.

“This is yet another drunken driving for Mr. Mikulen,” Masserang said. “He has a criminal history going back all the way to 1984 without any gaps… Many drunken drivings, assault with intent to do great bodily harm, multiple domestic violence (charges). In 2009, he was originally charged with four counts, pleaded down to one count of resisting/obstructing a police officer, alongside a previous drunken-driving. So this is not even his third felony drunken-driving… He was given a year in jail for his last drunken-driving. We would ask the court for a term of 17 months in the Michigan Department of Corrections.”

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