Drunk driver who broke probation gets prison time

Amber Steakhouse, right, appears in 35th Circuit Court in Corunna.

CORUNNA — A Swartz Creek woman who initially avoided prison time on a felony drunk driving charge Wednesday was sentenced to prison by 35th Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart because she violated probation by drinking alcohol.

Amber Stackhouse, 42, was sentenced to a minimum of two years, four months in prison and discharged unsuccessfully from probation. She was credited with 360 days served toward her sentence.

“Jail doesn’t deter you,” Stewart told Stackhouse before sentencing. “You don’t care. You’ve gone to jail tons of times… I think you are one bottle of alcohol away from climbing behind the wheel of a car and driving.”

Stackhouse was on probation for a 2019 felony Operating While Impaired conviction. She was sentenced to probation in March 2019 for the July 2018 incident.

Court records indicate Stackhouse posted a $200 cash/surety bond and was released after her 2018 arrest. She failed to appear for her arraignment in September 2018, and a bench warrant was issued. She was eventually arraigned Dec. 7, 2018, in 66th District Court before Judge Ward Clarkson; she pleaded not guilty.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Stackhouse admitted to consuming alcohol following an argument with a family member.

Stackhouse admitted to being an alcoholic and asked for the chance to continue probation.

“I’ll always be an alcoholic,” Stackhouse said. “But I’d like to be a recovering alcoholic even after probation… I don’t want anybody to give up on me. I’m trying.”

Defense attorney Amy Husted said Stackhouse has been on probation for nearly two years, and has made progress in that time.

“She let the emotions get the best of her,” Husted said. “We would ask you to take into consideration the tremendous progress that she has made in getting her life turned around and back on track.”

Chief Assistant Prosecutor Adam Masserang pointed out Stackhouse had four probation violations, and had failed to complete any of the 480 hours of community service ordered as part of her probation.

“There’s not really a whole lot left for the court to do,” Masserang said. “I think the court’s options are very limited… We would leave (sentencing) to the court’s discretion.”

Stewart said drunk drivers kill thousands of people each year.

“But for the grace of God, you were not one of them,” he told Stackhouse. “We tried probation. We tried Swift and Sure, one of our treatment courts… Now, with the new change in the department of corrections, you have to consent to inpatient treatment, and you refused that in June 2020. But we continued to try.”

Stackhouse has numerous prior convictions that date to at least 2006, including drunken driving, domestic violence and drug-related charges.

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