Ex-Sturgis police chief sentenced for drunken driving crash

St. Joseph County

CENTREVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — The former Sturgis public safety chief will have to undergo treatment after admitting to causing a crash while driving drunk last year.

Geoffrey Smith pleaded guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor driving while visibly impaired. Under the terms of a plea agreement, all other charges were dropped.

He was sentenced to 90 days of alcohol monitoring and 12 months of probation while undergoing sobriety treatment. If he complies, the judge said, the probation period may end at six months.

The crash happened the night of Aug. 15 on Lakeview Avenue in Sturgis. Smith’s car ran head-first into a line of parked vehicles, crushing the front of one of them. No one was hurt. Smith was immediately placed on leave and resigned from his role as chief in the following weeks.

Appearing in court virtually Wednesday, Smith’s defense attorney Michael Hills said the drunken driving was out of character for his client and that he disagreed with Smith’s decision to step down. He said Smith felt staying would become a distraction.

Hills also said that Smith cooperated with the officers who responded to the crash and never asked for special treatment.

A booking photo of Geoffrey Smith. (Courtesy: St. Joseph County Jail)

Calhoun County Judge Paul Beardslee, whose court heard the case to avoid any conflict of interest, called it a tough case and that Smith is evidence good people can do stupid things. While he said the level of Smith’s intoxication when the crash happened was a red flag, he also respected Smith for having taken responsibility for his actions.

He will also have to pay restitution, though exactly how much remains to be seen because the court still needs information about how much he owes after insurance. Smith also has fines, costs and fees totaling a little over $1,000.

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