By DON O'BRIEN
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
A Quincy man was sent to prison on Wednesday after pleading guilty to his fifth DUI charge.
Scott E. Espe, 56, was sentenced to nine years in the Illinois Department of Corrections by Judge Scott Walden as part of a plea agreement. Espe pleaded guilty to an amended aggravated DUI charge.
First Assistant State's Attorney Gary Farha said Espe was arrested after a traffic stop by the Quincy Police Department on March 10. Espe was stopped for driving in the rain without having his headlights on near 11th and Vermont. The officer gave Espe a field sobriety test and arrested him on a DUI charge. Espe had a blood-alcohol content level of .274, which is more than three times the legal limit of .08.
Espe gave a rambling statement of allocution that lasted more than 20 minutes. Walden granted Espe's request to have the shackles removed from his hands so that he could leaf through a hand-written letter.
Espe said all of his previous DUIs have three things in common.
"All of them had very high BACs," he said. "I drink too damn much. I know better. Secondly, every single one of them have been dumb."
Espe said he was going to get a copy of the Sunday paper on the day of his last arrest.
"Thank God I have never hurt anyone in all of my years of driving drunk," he said. "I have never even chipped a piece of paint off a vehicle."
Espe said that he abused drugs and alcohol for more than four decades. He was sober for five years before his father passed away last November. He said he started drinking with family members after his father's wake.
"I was off to the races again," he said. "I let so many people down that I was sick about it. I wanted (his sobriety) back."
Espe said that had he received a "nudge from a judge" earlier in his life, then he might not be in the spot he currently found himself in.
"This is more like a head slap," Walden said.
Espe has been lodged in the Adams County Jail in lieu of $50,000 since his arrest.