PLATTSMOUTH – An Elkhorn woman who committed her fourth lifetime DUI offense this past winter in Cass County will serve both jail time and probation for the crime.
Katrina L. Hajek, 31, appeared in Cass County District Court Monday morning for a sentencing hearing. She pled guilty earlier this year to a Class IIIA felony of driving under the influence of alcohol-.15+-third offense. The state reduced its original Class IIA felony charge of DUI-.15+-fourth offense as part of a plea bargain.
Hajek had three previous DUI convictions in her criminal history. The first conviction took place in Douglas County in November 2006 and the second happened in Douglas County in January 2008. The third DUI conviction occurred in Madison County in June 2012.
Hajek had her driver’s license suspended for 15 years as part of her Madison County sentence. She also spent 90 days in jail and paid a $1,000 fine.
Hajek was driving on a Cass County section of Interstate 80 on the evening of Dec. 19. Deputy County Attorney Steven Sunde said Hajek’s car then struck an object hard enough to shatter her windshield.
A Nebraska State Patrol trooper arrived at Hajek’s car and suspected she was intoxicated. The trooper arrested her after he conducted field sobriety tests. Hajek’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) level later registered above .150.
Sunde said Hajek’s ignition interlock device was not working at the time because it had been unplugged. He also said Hajek endangered many people by driving on a busy road after she had been drinking.
“It wasn’t just herself that she was jeopardizing that night,” Sunde said. “She was placing everyone who was driving on I-80 at that time at risk as well.”
Sunde said Hajek’s BAC level had been above .150 in all three of her earlier DUI incidents. He said this had also been the second time she had been involved in an accident while driving drunk. He said she had left the scene of an accident during her second DUI in Douglas County.
Sunde asked the court to send Hajek to jail. He said Hajek had completed many positive steps involving treatment over the past few months, but he felt that was not enough to overcome the seriousness of the offense.
“I think it’s too much to ask this court for probation, even though she has taken many of the right steps since this DUI happened,” Sunde said. “She has put the public in danger too many times.”
Defense attorney Julie Bear felt the court could deliver a probation sentence that would not promote disrespect for the law. She said her client had completed both inpatient and intensive outpatient treatment programs and was continuing to attend treatment sessions. She said Hajek had been attending multiple Alcoholics Anonymous meetings per week and had obtained a supportive AA sponsor.
Bear said Hajek had also spent 41 days in Cass County Jail after her arrest. She served time in a pre-trial release program before her plea hearing.
“Ms. Hajek has concentrated on getting her life heading in a positive direction,” Bear said. “She has done the right things for the right reasons.”
Judge Michael Smith commended Hajek for seeking intensive treatment, but he said he was also very concerned about the offense. He said he would issue a sentence that combined probation with jail time.
Smith ordered Hajek to serve 48 months on probation. She must pay a mandatory $1,000 fine, wear a continuous alcohol monitoring device for 60 days and abstain from alcohol and drugs. Her driver’s license will be suspended for 15 years. She will be able to obtain an ignition interlock device permit for her car after 45 days.
Smith also ordered Hajek to serve 60 days in Cass County Jail. She will not receive any credit for the 41 days she had previously been in jail. Hajek will spend 20 consecutive weekends in jail beginning July 12.