Bangor driver sentenced to five years after multiple violations

Posted Jan. 09, 2009, at 8:30 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A Bangor man with a lengthy driving record was sentenced Friday to five years in prison, the mandatory minimum under a relatively new state statute known as Tina’s Law.

Iver D. Cardwell Jr., 27, pleaded guilty Friday to charges of aggravated operating after habitual offender revocation and criminal operating under the influence, both Class C felonies, stemming from a November 2007 incident.

Assistant District Attorney Greg Campbell said Cardwell was driving his sport utility vehicle recklessly all over Bangor on the afternoon of Nov. 27, 2007, hitting parked cars and then driving off. Eventually, he hit a parked school bus near John Bapst Memorial High School and was detained by witnesses until police arrived to arrest him.

“It was amazing — given the way he was driving and with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit — that no one was hurt or killed,” Campbell said Friday after Cardwell’s sentencing in Penobscot County Superior Court.

Cardwell’s prior convictions allowed prosecutors to seek the mandatory minimum sentence under a law passed in 2006 designed to keep bad drivers off the road. Tina’s Law is named for Tina Turcotte, who died in an accident caused by a Houlton truck driver who had 63 prior driving convictions and had been involved in a previous fatal accident.

As part of an agreement, Cardwell also pleaded guilty Friday to an operating-after-revocation charge out of Waldo County related to a separate incident in July 2007. All told, the man’s record includes at least three convictions each for operating after suspension and operating after revocation, and now three drunken driving convictions. He also has at least two convictions for theft.

Campbell said this was the longest sentence that has been handed down in Penobscot County since Tina’s Law was enacted.

“This is a prime example of why the Legislature passed a law that’s so tough,” the prosecutor said. “We think it’s well deserved given his lengthy history.”

Cardwell already has served some time in jail since his initial arrest in late 2007 because he was unable to post bail. He will get credit for that time served, Campbell said.

At the man’s initial court appearance last year, his attorney, Joseph Hunt, said his client was suffering from depression and had been turned away from Acadia Hospital in Bangor the weekend before his reckless driving spree.

Witnesses told the Bangor Daily News at the time of the accident that Cardwell was incoherent and had no idea where he was. Campbell said it was pretty apparent the Cardwell has a substance abuse issue but that was all the more reason to draw attention to the lengthy sentence.

“If he had been driving a little later in the day when school was letting out, he could have hit pedestrians,” Campbell said.

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