A Crow Agency woman who admitted she was drunk when she drove the wrong way on Interstate 90 last year and crashed into a bridge, seriously injuring a passenger, will spend five years on federal probation.
U.S. District Judge Susan Watters on Wednesday followed a defense recommendation for probation in sentencing Violet Joann Agnes Birdinground, 23, for her guilty plea to assault resulting in serious injury. There was no plea agreement.
Birdinground faced a sentencing guideline range of 21 months to 27 months.
Birdinground apologized to the victim saying she was “very truly remorseful and sad” for her actions and to the court for violating her pre-trial release conditions by drinking.
Being incarcerated for the past four months, she said, has been a big wake-up call.
Birdinground said her goals are to remain sober, continue her college education, work and to be a mother to her unborn child and her 2-year-old.
Assistant Federal Defender Gillian Gosch recommended probation saying Birdinground needed treatment and has strong family support.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori Suek sought a 21-month sentence, noting the serious injuries suffered by the victim and that Birdinground drove the wrong way, would not stop for law enforcement and crashed into a bridge.
The crash happened on Sept. 24, 2016. Officers responded to a 7:30 a.m. call of a driver going the wrong way on I-90 headed from Garryowen to Crow Agency, on the Crow Reservation.
Officers responding to the crash found Birdinground slumped over the driver’s seat and the victim in the back seat. A blood test found that Birdinground had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.164 percent, or about twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
In an interview two days later, Birdinground had no memory of the crash but admitted to drinking, the prosecution said.
The victim had emergency surgery for a severe compound skull fracture and suffered multiple scalp lacerations along with facial and orbital fractures.