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Man sentenced for refusing breath test in Cass County

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Cass County Courthouse photo

PLATTSMOUTH – An Omaha man will spend four years on probation for refusing to take a chemical breath test after authorities stopped his car on a Cass County highway.

Neil R. Devorss, 30, appeared in Cass County District Court Monday morning for a sentencing hearing. He pled guilty in September to a Class IIIA felony charge of refusal to submit to a chemical test-third offense. The state dismissed three additional charges as part of a plea bargain.

A Cass County Sheriff’s Office deputy received a report of an erratic driver at 10:45 p.m. April 7. A caller told emergency dispatchers they had watched a car weaving along the northbound lane of Highway 75. The car crossed the center line several times and went into the southbound lane of the highway.

The deputy spotted the car and pulled it over on the shoulder of Highway 75. The deputy noticed Devorss was unable to keep track of their conversation when they began speaking. Devorss also had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath and was slurring his speech.

The deputy arrested Devorss after he declined to take a preliminary breath test at the scene. He was transported to Cass County Jail and booked on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. Jail employees asked Devorss multiple times to take a chemical breath test. He refused to use the breathalyzer each time.

Devorss had been arrested twice in Lancaster County on DUI charges in 2009. He had refused to submit to mandatory breath tests each time. He had also been arrested for minor in possession of alcohol that year.

Deputy County Attorney Steven Sunde left the sentencing recommendation to the court’s discretion. He told the court Devorss had completed an outpatient treatment program and had done well in a pre-trial release program. Sunde said all of Devorss’ convictions were related to alcohol use.

Defense attorney Michael Fitzpatrick asked the court to place Devorss on probation. He felt Devorss had shown remorse for his actions and had fulfilled many requirements of a potential probation sentence.

“He has been a dream to work with,” Fitzpatrick said. “When he came into my office he was very upset with himself, and he immediately took it upon himself to get an evaluation and enter a treatment program. He was way, way ahead of the curve when it came to things he needed to do.”

Judge Michael Smith sentenced Devorss to 48 months of probation. Devorss must attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving victim impact panel, pay a mandatory $1,000 fine and pay all probation-related fees. He must abstain from alcohol for the next four years and submit to random tests and searches.

Devorss will have his driver’s license suspended for five years. He will be able to apply for an ignition interlock device for his vehicle after 45 days.

Smith also ordered Devorss to serve a mandatory 60-day term in Cass County Jail. He began serving the jail sentence Monday afternoon.

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