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Green Bay man sentenced for 18th drunk driving conviction

Wallace C. Bowers (Photo courtesy Green Bay Police Dept.)
Wallace C. Bowers (Photo courtesy Green Bay Police Dept.)
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WLUK) -- Wallace Bowers was sentenced Friday to five years in prison for his 18th drunk driving conviction.

Bowers, 74, had a valid driver’s license when he was arrested Jan. 8 after crashing into a power pole on the city’s east side. He pleaded no contest Friday to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, 10th or more offense. Two other counts were dismissed.

Defense attorney Steven Johnson noted Bowers is a Vietnam War U.S. Army veteran on full disability with PTSD and other health issues. The isolation and stress due to the pandemic exacerbated his situation.

“I regret everything that I’ve done,” Bowers said before sentencing, noting the stress lead to an alcoholism relapse after being clean for 10 years.

In issuing the sentence, Judge John Zakowski thanked Wallace for his service, but said that wouldn’t matter to the victim of a drunk driving crash, if someone were hurt in such an incident.

Zakowski noted Bowers’ sentence after his last conviction.

“I wanted know ‘What did you get in your last case?’ It was four years. My dad would say ‘Well, if you did the same thing wrong, then the punishment should be bigger the next time.’ So it’s going to five years this time,” the judge said.

Zakowksi also placed Bowers on extended supervision for seven years, issued a $1,000 fine, and suspended his driver’s license for three years after that. But said Bowers should never drive again.

“You’ve spent your last day behind the wheel,” Zakowski said.

Wisconsin law now requires driver’s licenses to be revoked with a fourth OWI conviction, if the previous conviction was within 15 years. But in this case, Bowers' last conviction was in 2011, before the new law went into effect in 2018; so he had a valid driver's license when he got behind the wheel.

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According to the criminal complaint, Bowers was most recently sentenced to four years in prison in 2011 for a Marathon County case. The criminal complaint notes 17 prior convictions for arrests on:

  • Jan. 24, 1988
  • Feb. 7, 1993
  • March 12, 1993
  • May 23, 1993
  • July 8, 1993
  • April 17, 1994
  • Dec. 2, 1994
  • Aug. 13, 1994
  • July 31, 1996
  • Sept. 23, 1996
  • Aug. 27, 1997
  • June 13, 1998
  • May 3, 2000
  • Jan. 1, 2000
  • April 14, 2003
  • July 12, 2005
  • Oct. 1, 2011
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