When police found Ryan O'Toole passed out beside a riding lawn mower on 10th Street a mile from a Lincoln police station last May, it was his sixth DUI in eight years, prosecutors said.
Thursday, a judge sent the 35-year-old to prison for it.
"I think the complaint speaks volumes," Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Dan Zieg said first, pointing out O'Toole had DUIs in November 2009, February 2010, March 2011, July 2012 and August 2012.
He said O'Toole "has been perpetually driving drunk since 2009 at least" and seems to have the impression that driving drunk isn't that big a deal.
O'Toole's latest arrest, on May 25, showed the lengths that he will go to to get behind the wheel of any motorized vehicle and drive, Zieg said.
At about 9:30 that night, a 911 caller told dispatch an intoxicated man was lying near a lawn mower in the intersection at 10th and Peach streets. Police said O'Toole appeared to have been going south — against one-way traffic — on 10th and was in the process of turning west onto Peach Street when he fell off the mower, according to an affidavit for his arrest.
When officers roused him, they noticed he smelled of alcohol, his speech was slurred and his eyes were bloodshot.
Police said O’Toole had been driving from one address to another on the lawn mower while drinking beer.
O'Toole later pleaded no contest to refusal to submit to a chemical test, which Lancaster County District Judge Lori Maret found to be a fifth or subsequent offense, making it a felony that carries a sentence of up to 50 years in prison.
"I know I do have a problem," O'Toole said Thursday, tearfully. "I just never did seek the help."
Defense attorney DeAnn Stover argued for probation, saying more than anything O'Toole, and society, need for him to get treatment, "before something even worse happens."
Maret said imprisonment was necessary for the protection of the public. And she sentenced O'Toole to six to eight years in prison and revoked his driver's license for 15 years.