By Shereen Siewert

A 62-year-old man will spend three years in prison for his seventh drunken driving offense, a sentence that will begin after he finishes a two-year sentence for a sixth OWI committed the same summer.

Robert J. Merrill was arrested in Marathon County in June 2019 after a deputy pulled his vehicle over on CTH Y in the town of Harrison. Police say Merrill crossed the center line and swerved into the southbound lane prior to pulling onto the shoulder of the road.

Merrill, who told the deputy he had been visiting a family member who was camping at the Eau Claire Dells, allegedly failed field sobriety tests before submitting a breath sample. The preliminary breath test showed a blood alcohol concentration of 0.176 percent, nearly nine times higher than the .02 percent restriction on Merrill’s license due to his five prior convictions.

That case was initially filed as a sixth-offense OWI and Merrill was released on a signature bond. Six weeks later he was arrested again on drunken driving charges, this time in Langlade County.

The Langlade County case concluded first. In August, a Langlade County judge sentenced Merrill to two years in prison for sixth-offense OWI, a sentence he is now serving. Merrill was then sentenced in October in Marathon County for a seventh offense.

That means Merrill will be in prison until at least 2025.

At Merrill’s sentencing hearing earlier this month Circuit Judge Greg Strasser also ordered Merrill to spend four years on extended supervision following his eventual release from prison.