By Shereen Siewert

A Green Bay man discovered sleeping behind the wheel of his vehicle on Hwy. 29 will avoid prison on his sixth drunken driving conviction after receiving a withheld sentence this month in Marathon County Circuit Court.

James E. Highland, 53, was charged in July 2019 after police were called to the intersection of Purple Mountain Lane and Hwy. 29 in the town of Cassel for a report of a vehicle parked on the roadway with a man sleeping inside. Upon arrival they discovered Highlund behind the wheel and woke him from sleep.

Police say Highlund was in the driver’s seat with keys in the ignition and vehicle running when a deputy roused him. An open cup containing alcohol was in the console of the vehicle, according to the police report.

Highlund told police he was tired and pulled off for a nap. But deputies detected a strong odor of intoxicants and asked Highlund to perform field sobriety tests, which Highlund allegedly failed. Preliminary breath test results were inconsistent at the scene, ranging from 0.12 percent to 0.23 percent. A third breath test, administered at the Marathon County Jail, showed a 0.19 percent blood alcohol concentration.

On July 10, Circuit Judge Greg Strasser ordered Highlund to spend five years on probation and serve one year in jail, minus 142 days credit for time served, as part of a withheld sentencing agreement. A withheld sentence means the court has not imposed a prison sentence, instead ordering Highlund to be placed under supervision by the Department of Corrections.

If Highlund violates the conditions of his supervision and his probation is revoked he will be returned to court for sentencing.

Highlund has five prior OWI convictions ranging from 1991 to 2013, all of which happened in Michigan. He did not have a valid driver’s license when he was arrested.