Grandmother, 85, gets ...

Grandmother, 85, gets 7-week jail sentence after drunken driving crash

Barbara Fisher            Photo courtesy of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office

By John Turk, The Oakland Press

An 85-year-old grandmother is sentenced to 75 days in jail after, officials say, she allegedly shirked probation conditions following a mid-afternoon drunken driving crash she was charged in.

And as the senior citizen begins her jail term, her attorney is saying the punishment was much too harsh.

The original incident happened at 2:58 p.m. June 29, at Southridge Circle and Sherwood Forest Drive in Rochester Hills, when resident Barbara Jean Fisher’s 2000 Lincoln sedan hit a light pole.

Arriving Oakland County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the single-vehicle crash, talked with the 85-year-old and took her initial blood-alcohol content at the scene, finding levels around 0.22 percent.

Later, blood tests showed that her blood-alcohol content was closer to 0.24 percent, three times the legal driving limit.

Fisher was initially arraigned in the 52-3 District Court on the charge of operating an automobile with a blood-alcohol content of 0.17 or more causing an accident. She eventually pleaded her charge down to operating while impaired by liquor, and was sentenced to 21 days in jail, which she served, then to probation.

Subsequent warrants were issued for Fisher’s arrest, however, due to several probation violations, including not showing up to more than five required alcohol tests.

Ultimately, the 85-year-old pleaded guilty in the violations tallied throughout the duration of her case, and 52nd-3rd District Judge Julie Nicholson sentenced Fisher in February to 75 days in jail for probation violations tied to the drunk driving accident. She had credit for 24 days served, records show.

Following the order, Fisher’s lawyer, Rochester Hills-based Michael Balian, said anyone who is 85 years old should not be in jail.

“I understand Judge Nicholson’s concern for the protection of the community ... (and) frustration with her behavior ... but I fall back to the fact that she’s 85,” said Balian.

“Jail will be a harsh environment for her to be in and will have an adverse effect on her mental and physical health. She’s not in the best of health as it is, and (this) is really like a life sentence. It’s not appropriate based on (Fisher’s) age.”

Fisher’s sentence was harsh, deputies report, because on numerous occasions, she failed to report for alcohol testing while free on bond, and never responded to a subsequent warrant that was issued for her in July.

Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe said that there have been no health or other issues with Fisher during her time in the county jail.

“She is in general population and doing fine there,” said McCabe via email.

“There are no special accommodations or needs for her.”

Some conditions of the Rochester Hills woman’s probation once she completes her sentence is that she pay for and take all medication prescribed by her doctor; participate in substance abuse, outpatient and mental health programs; blow into an alcohol detection device at least four times a day and report to probation officers monthly.

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