BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — BEVERLY — A man arrested on drunken-driving charges twice in three months — both times with what a prosecutor called an “extraordinarily high” blood alcohol level — will spend 90 days in jail under the terms of a plea agreement.
Joseph Thuranira, 47, of 3 Winchester Terrace, Beverly, pleaded guilty to two drunken-driving charges yesterday during a hearing in Salem District Court.
In the first case, from May 29, Thuranira admitted he was drunk when he plowed into a neighbor’s parked van, sending it down an embankment and into a yard and tree, on the evening of May 29.
He laughed and danced before driving away, prosecutor Alex Grimes told Judge Michael Uhlarik. When he returned, police were waiting for him and charged him with drunken driving and driving to endanger.
At the police station, he took a Breathalyzer test and was found to have a level of .31, nearly four times the legal limit, Grimes told the judge.
Thuranira’s license was suspended while that case was pending.
Then, on Aug. 3, Thuranira was arrested a second time, after he pulled into the lot at Ryal Side Liquors on Bridge Street and collided with a parked car. Police smelled alcohol on his breath and noticed that he was unsteady on his feet. A Breathalyzer registered a level of .38. In addition to drunken driving, he was charged with driving after license suspension.
Both cases were treated as first offenses because Thuranira had not previously been convicted of drunken driving, and there had been no conviction in the May case when he was charged again in August.
But unlike most first-offenders, Thuranira was sentenced to jail time. The plea agreement, accepted by Uhlarik, included two concurrent 18-month jail terms, with 90 days to be served and the balance suspended for two years, during which Thuranira will be on probation.
He will also lose his driver’s license for a year, far longer than the typical 45-day suspension imposed on most first-offenders. And he’ll have to pay restitution to at least one of the people whose property he damaged.
Defense lawyer William O’Hare said his client had gone to college and worked in nursing homes but developed an alcohol problem in midlife. “The alcohol abuse came on very rapidly,” said O’Hare, who told the judge Thuranira wants help for his problem when he gets out of jail.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.