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Serial Drunken Driver Sentenced to Prison

February 16, 2016


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jessica Bryant, 215.348.6175, jlbryant@buckscounty.org

A pharmaceutical researcher who had been caught driving drunk six times since 1989 was sentenced to prison Friday in Bucks County Court.

Gosford Sawyerr, 58, of Newtown, already had five drunken driving convictions in New York and Minnesota by the time a Bucks County jury found him guilty on Jan. 13 of driving under the influence. Yet he had spent no time in jail since his first offense in 1989.

Bucks County Judge Diane E. Gibbons revoked Sawyerr’s bail upon his conviction last month and sent him to the Bucks County Correctional Facility to await sentencing, calling him a danger to the public.

Friday morning, Gibbons extended Sawyerr’s prison stay, sentencing him to serve 11 ½ to 23 months, followed by three years of consecutive probation after his release. The sentence means that Sawyerr effectively will be under court supervision for the next five years, subject to random testing to ensure that he doesn’t resume drinking.

“You have been engaging in this conduct for more than 25 years,” Gibbons told Sawyerr, “so I do not believe five years of supervision is beyond what is necessary.” She also fined him $1,500.

Sawyerr had been stopped by an Upper Makefield Township police officer on May 30 along Taylorsville Road. The officer reported that Sawyerr’s vehicle had weaved across the double-yellow center line five times before being pulled over. He refused to submit to field sobriety tests and blood testing when asked to do so.

Assistant District Attorney Jessica Bryant urged Gibbons to sentence Sawyerr to state prison, calling it “nothing short of a miracle that no one was killed or seriously injured that night. This is now the sixth time that he has made this decision” to drink and drive.

Sawyerr expressed contrition in court, telling Gibbons that he was “deeply sorry that I have allowed alcohol to control my life.” He said he had “ruined not only my life, but have affected my wife, my daughters, my family. I have ruined the family name” and inflicted financial hardship by not being able to work.

“The shock of incarceration is beyond what you can imagine,” he continued. “The last four weeks have been life-altering.”

Sawyerr said he would like to be assessed for inpatient alcohol treatment programs, and to be considered for work release during the day so that he could provide for his relatives, some of whom have serious medical issues.

Gibbons said that Sawyerr, until being sent to prison, had refused to acknowledge or deal with his alcoholism problem. Had he been more forcefully punished in New York – where his drunken driving was treated as a summary offense punishable only by fines – he might have been forced into the treatment he needs, she said.

Gibbons said that she wanted Sawyerr sentenced in a way that would prevent him from having access to alcohol, but which also would give him a chance to undergo treatment and counseling for the first time. 

Approved for release by Matthew Weintraub, Chief of Prosecution.

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