Share this article

print logo

Lesser charge in DWI case

An Orleans-Niagara Board of Cooperative Education administrator accused of driving while intoxicated in a BOCES-owned vehicle was sentenced Wednesday night on a lesser charge.

Town Justice Henry G. Peters found Michael J. Johannes, 53, of Ransomville, guilty after a nonjury trial earlier this week of a reduced charge of driving while ability impaired.

Peters imposed a fine of $300, with a $260 surcharge and suspended Peters' driver's license for 90 days.

The judge also noted that Johannes will be fined $250 each year for the next three years as part of a state Department of Motor Vehicle Responsible Driver Assessment.

Niagara County sheriff's deputies said that they pulled Johannes over for reckless driving Nov. 10 on Ridge Road. He was found driving a school vehicle and told deputies that he had "a few beers" at a Robinson Road restaurant. He registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.15 percent, nearly twice the legal limit, according to sheriff's reports.

It was not the first time Johannes has appeared before a judge facing DWI charges. Amherst police confirmed that in February 2002, he was charged with making an unsafe lane change, driving on the shoulder and was found with a blood-alcohol level of 0.13 percent, above the legal limit.

Amherst police pulled Johannes over on Interstate 290 after receiving a citizen complaint of a reckless driver, said Officer Ron Fuller. The reporting citizen followed Johannes from Walden Galleria almost to I-990, according to police reports.

Johannes pleaded guilty in that case to driving while ability impaired. At that time, he had been working as the facilities and operations director in the Starpoint School District, a job he held until taking a similar position at BOCES in 2005.

Under state law, drivers can be charged with a felony if they receive a second DWI charge within 10 years of a conviction for DWI. Under a DWAI conviction, as he had 10 years ago, however, a driver faces more serious penalties if they are arrested within five years.