A man repeatedly caught zipping around Reedsburg in a go-kart while intoxicated will avoid prison time, despite being convicted of his sixth drunken driving offense.
In court Monday, prosecutors entered a plea deal with 65-year-old Michael P. Witt, of Reedsburg, to resolve seven felony cases and numerous charges against him. He must spend the next year in jail with work-release privileges, plus eight years on probation.
Witt’s recent batch of legal troubles began in June 2017 when a Reedsburg police officer caught him “speeding around” the city in a patriotically decorated go-kart while intoxicated. Nine days later, he was again caught driving the vehicle — with two American flags flying from the back — on city streets under the influence.
In the months that followed, Witt was arrested multiple times for violating conditions of his bond. In one incident, he was caught riding a blue motor scooter, with an American flag on the back, to a gas station to purchase beer.
In exchange for his no contest pleas to two counts of drunken driving and two counts of bail jumping, prosecutors agreed to dismiss all other charges. In lieu of a prison sentence, they recommended time in the county jail and probation.
Sauk County Assistant District Attorney Rick Spoentgen said despite being convicted of six drunken driving offenses, a recommendation of no prison time was warranted because of the unique circumstances involving Witt’s case.
Because of his age, the vehicle he was driving, and his ties to the community, Spoentgen said, it made sense to give him “one final bite at the apple before the hammer comes down and he is severely punished for his actions.”
Witt served as a medic in the Vietnam War and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, his attorney, Stephen Eisenberg of Madison, said Monday. And prior to his June 2017 arrest, Witt had gone eight years without a drunken driving conviction.
Eisenberg also said Witt has limited mobility, suffers from memory problems and is not violent. He said his client’s main problem is alcohol.
“He’s a mild man,” Eisenberg said. “He’s a simple person struggling with physical and emotional addictions. He’s not a bad person.”
In accepting the joint recommendation from the prosecution and defense, Sauk County Circuit Court Judge Guy Reynolds agreed to withhold sentencing and ordered that Witt report immediately to jail.
If Witt doesn’t comply with terms of the deal, which include loss of driving privileges for “non-human-powered vehicles,” mandatory counseling, absolute sobriety and fines, he could wind up back in court facing prison time.
“I hope you take positive advantage of the opportunity here and the relatively rare second chance,” Reynolds said. “Although it’s really your fifth and sixth chance when it comes to dealing with your alcohol problems.”