Repeat DUI Offender Back in Court Days After Prison Release
Douglas Gardner, a 54-year-old man from Vermont, was only days removed from serving a 20-year-prison sentence when he committed an act that could send him right back in, according to the St. Albans Messenger.
Gardner was stopped by police who said he was driving a stolen car on a suspended license while
drunk. The DUI arrest is Gardner's eighth.
His last DUI arrest landed him in prison when he was convicted of killing 20-year-old Billy LaBier-Boucher while driving under the influence.
According to the St. Albans Messenger, for Billy’s mother, Pat LaBier-Boucher, there was a strange and terrible sense of déjà vu. “It was like 20 years ago,” she said of seeing Gardner back in court facing a DUI charge. “It’s like reliving the whole thing again, only I didn’t lost somebody else. I hope he’s behind bars forever.”
The state is charging him with felony DUI, auto theft and driving with a suspended license. His driver’s license was suspended for life twenty years ago. Gardner pleaded not guilty to these charges.
He will be charged with the “three strikes law,” which means that because he has three or more felonies on his record he could face life in prison.
“I’m glad they’re going after that,” said LaBier-Boucher. The state attorney asked that bail be set at $100,000, which is double what he was held on over the weekend while he waited for an arraignment. The judge in the case, however, ordered that Gardner was to be held without bail.
“You are a threat to the safety of the public,” said Judge Greg Rainville. “If I can’t stop you from driving, I can’t allow you on the streets.”
When that announcement was made, there was heard in the court room an exclamation of joy, coming from LaBier-Boucher’s section. “That’s exactly what we wanted,” she said to a victim’s advocate and probation officer sitting nearby.
Gardner was led out of the courtroom. Outside, his family declined to comment, saying only that they loved him.
Records indicate that Vermont police found a Pontiac Aztec 30 feet off of the road at noon on a Saturday, wedged against an embankment. Gardner, who was at the wheel, “had difficulty walking unassisted,” according to police. He admitted to drinking two beers and vodka. His blood-alcohol content was measured at .156 percent, which is almost double the legal limit.
When police talked to members of Gardner’s family, they determined that the car had been marked for sale and parked out in front of his relative’s home. The car was uninsured, and didn’t even run properly, but his family member guessed that Gardner had fixed it up enough to drive it. He did not, according to her statement, have permission to drive the car.
While she hadn’t given permission for Gardner to drive the car, she did not want him to be charged with stealing it.
When asked about her opinion of the ignition-interlock legislation being considered in Vermont, LaBier-Boucher said, “I guess if you’re going to put it on every vehicle,” but that’s a pipe dream. Doug Gardner stole this car, and the one that he was driving when he killed my son. There’s no way to stop somebody like Doug Gardner.”
Before his 1990 DUI conviction, Gardner had convictions from 1976 through 1989.