A drunken driver who seriously injured a woman in a July 13 crash was sentenced Thursday to six months in jail to start a five-year term of probation.
Paul J. Beiter, 58, of Shadigee Road, Wilson, could have received up to four years in state prison for his guilty pleas to second-degree vehicular assault and misdemeanor driving while intoxicated.
Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III did not explain his sentence.
Beiter's attorney, Mark R. Danna, said, "I think incarceration would just hurt his family." Danna suggested that if Murphy wanted to send Beiter to jail, he could assign the defendant to serve only weekends "with lots and lots of community service. He's a handyman at Wyndham Lawn [Home for Children]. He can do lots of things."
Murphy did not go that route, however. He did impose $470 in fees and surcharges and revoked Beiter's driver's license for six months.
The crash occurred shortly after 11 p.m. July 13, when Beiter's westbound sport utility vehicle ran a red light and T-boned another auto at Upper Mountain Road and Sunset Drive in Lockport, Deputy District Attorney Theodore A. Brenner said when Beiter pleaded guilty Jan. 18.
The other driver, Mary E. Johnson, 25, of Tonawanda Creek Road, Lockport, lost four teeth and had her jaw broken in two places. She also suffered a fractured lumbar vertebra, two broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a concussion and a lacerated spleen.
Johnson told Murphy, "I had no energy left after my jaw being broken and my face all swollen."
The victim's mother, Linda Johnson, said, "Even with her safety belt and air bag, she broke the steering wheel with her face. Her jaw was broken so badly the bones were in her mouth."
She added, "Why didn't [Beiter] call someone, a cab, a friend, a courtesy ride? Why didn't he get in the back seat and sleep it off? He got into a motor vehicle and used it as a weapon."
Beiter said, "I haven't had any alcohol since that day. I'll never have it again. I'm really sorry for Mary and her family."