By Shereen Siewert
A 56-year-old Wausau man who was intoxicated when he left a tavern with a 14-year-old boy and crashed into a parked vehicle will spend one year in jail, but will avoid prison time for his fifth OWI conviction.
Police say video footage from a tavern on County Hwy. N showed Douglas J. Schara driving in reverse on Hwy. N and narrowly avoiding a passing U-Haul, then backing over a ditch and into a GMC Sierra before leaving the scene. The crash was reported at about 1:45 p.m. on Sept. 26, 2020, shortly after Schara was in the bar with a young boy for lunch.
The bartender told police Schara was intoxicated when he entered the bar and was served a single, watered-down drink with his meal. The boy, who is not related to Schara, told police he was doing yard work with Schara before they stopped for lunch, according to the police report.
Police caught up with Schara a short time later driving on a nearby road. A preliminary breath test showed Schara had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.158 percent, according to the police report, which is more than seven times the 0.02 percent limit imposed on him due to his prior OWI convictions.
Charges were filed Sept. 29, 2020 in Marathon County Circuit Court.
On Dec. 22 Schara pleaded guilty to charges of fifth offense OWI with a passenger younger than 16, while charges of operating with a revoked license were dismissed and read into the record. Circuit Judge Greg Huber sentenced Schara to six years in the Wisconsin Prison System, but stayed the sentence for five years of probation, one of which will be spent in the Marathon County jail with Huber privileges for work, school and/or treatment.
Schara will also pay a $3,000 fine plus court costs and will lose his drivers license for five years, according to court records.
His most recent prior OWI conviction was in 2015, according to court records, when a Portage County judge sentenced him to 90 days in jail and two years of probation.