November 21, 2014

Medina
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Student jailed for drunken crash, injuring friend

MEDINA — A 21-year-old University of Akron student will spend at least three months in the Medina County Jail for injuring his friend while driving drunk earlier this year.

Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier sentenced Mark W. Bramley to six months in jail Tuesday, but said he’ll re-examine the sentence halfway through.

Mark Bramley

Bramley, of 380 Sharon Copley Road, Sharon Township, pleaded guilty last week to assault and driving under the influence of alcohol, both first-degree misdemeanors.

He originally was charged with aggravated vehicular assault, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, and a lesser version of that offense.

Bramley’s best friend, Marcus Stewart, suffered a head injury April 21. Bramley acknowledged driving drunk and told the judge he fell asleep behind the wheel. The car flipped three times after hitting a ditch.

Stewart was knocked unconscious because of the head injury during the crash and was transported to a hospital via LifeFlight after Bramley called police. Stewart has since recovered, Bramley said.

Bramley was 20 years old at the time.

Police tested his blood-alcohol level and said it was 0.186 — more than nine times the 0.02 legal limit for someone younger than 21. The limit is 0.08 for those 21 and older.

Bramley told the judge he has abstained from alcohol since the crash and he doesn’t plan to drink anymore.

“On April 21, I made the biggest mistake of my life,” he said. “I’ll do anything to prove that I don’t want to make a mistake like that again.”

The judge said that wasn’t good enough.

“You were so drunk that you fell asleep while driving with your friend in the car,” Collier said.

Bramley said he and Stewart were at a party and were headed back to his house to continue partying. He said they stopped to buy more beer, and he cracked one open on the way.

Bramley said he had 10 beers that night.

“Why did you need more alcohol?” Collier asked. “Because you didn’t think you were drunk enough?”

“Yes,” Bramley said, visibly shaking as he spoke.

Bramley’s friend said in a victim impact report that he thought Bramley should get probation and not jail. He said if Bramley was jailed, he wouldn’t be able to continue school or work.

In addition to the jail sentence, Collier fined Bramley $250 and ordered him to enter an alcohol treatment program. He also suspended Bramley’s license for a year.

Bramley also will be required to have yellow-and-red DUI plates when he does get to drive so that police easily can identify him as a prior drunken driving offender.

Bramley’s attorney, David Sheldon, said his client understands the seriousness of his actions.

“He knows his best friend could have died,” Sheldon said. “He knows if he went left of center, an innocent family could have died. And he knows he could have died.”

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.