Man arrested for drunken driving

Intoxication level was well over the limit, police say

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published March 25, 2015




HAZEL PARK — Police never know what they’ll find when they pull someone over. It’s why they’re guarded whenever they approach a stopped vehicle. Sometimes they find a disaster just waiting to happen.

Such was the case March 16, around 7:30 p.m., when an officer noticed a black 2012 Dodge Journey make a prohibited turn at Eight Mile and John R. It was a “no turn on red” light, and the driver turned.

Inside, the officer found a man later identified as Robert Gasperoni, 51, of Hazel Park. The officer could allegedly smell intoxicants emanating from the suspect’s breath and vehicle. His speech was reportedly slurred, and his eyes were glassy.

Several field sobriety tests were performed, which the suspect allegedly failed. Police say the preliminary breath test then confirmed what seemed obvious: The suspect was drunk, with a blood alcohol content of 0.227. It’s illegal to be 0.08 or above, meaning the suspect was more than twice the legal limit.

“He was cooperative,” said Hazel Park Police Chief Martin Barner. “But you never know what will happen when pulling someone over.”

The suspect was brought to the station, and a search warrant was secured for his blood. He was transported to an area hospital, where blood was collected and sent to the state lab for processing. Barner said the suspect claimed he had been doing yard work earlier that day and had only had a couple of drinks.

In the meantime, it was determined that Gasperoni had six prior convictions of operating while intoxicated, from July 1989 through November 2014.

For this latest incident, he was arraigned March 17 by Judge Charles Goedert in Hazel Park 43rd District Court. He was charged with the felony version of OWI third offense. The sentence can carry a penalty of either $500-$5,000 and one to five years in prison, or probation with 30 days to one year in jail, at least 48 hours of that to be served consecutively, as well as 60-180 days of community service.

In either case, if convicted, the suspect would also pay for rehabilitative programs, the cost of prosecution, and reimbursing the government for emergency response and other costs.

At press time, Gasperoni was being held on a $50,000 cash-or-surety bond. He had not yet been appointed an attorney.

Barner said the incident is an example of what police sometimes encounter while on road patrol.

“It varies, how often drunk driving happens. Around St. Patrick’s Day (March 17), there’s an increased chance someone you pull over will be intoxicated,” Barner said. “That’s one thing about traffic enforcement: You never know what you’ll get into. You can find drugs; you can find weapons. You can find people with warrants or with stolen vehicles. Traffic enforcement never knows.”

One thing is for certain, he said: Police take driving under the influence very seriously.

“When you have a 4,000-5,000-pound vehicle being operated by someone who is obviously impaired, whether it’s alcohol or drugs, it’s definitely a danger to everyone on the road,” Barner said.