SALEM, Mass. — A serial drunken driver charged with his fifth offense after a 2018 car crash on Interstate 495 in Andover was sentenced to state prison Thursday following a three-day trial.
Scott Karwiel, 49, of 5 Bayberry Lane, Salisbury, will serve three-and-a-half to four years in prison, followed by three years of probation, after being convicted by a Salem Superior Court jury. He was also found guilty of negligent driving to endanger.
Karwiel had been free on bail while his case was pending — a situation that caused some controversy because now-retired Judge Timothy Feeley reduced his bail to $1,000 shortly after his arrest.
That arrest came on the evening of July 6, 2018, just before 8 p.m., when a state police trooper spotted Karwiel’s Ford 500 sedan in the median of Route 495 near Exit 41 in Andover.
Karwiel appeared to be trying to drive back onto the road in the damaged car. He told the trooper his “check engine” light had come on and that he then suddenly veered off the road.
The trooper noticed an odor of alcohol, according to a judge’s findings, and had him perform field sobriety tests. Karwiel nearly fell down a highway embankment during one test, a judge noted.
Karwiel told the trooper he had taken some medications that day, but denied drinking — volunteering that he had four prior drunken driving convictions, something the trooper did not yet know, according to a judge’s findings. The trooper also noticed an 18-pack of beer, with nine beers missing, in the back of the Ford, which was towed away.
Karwiel’s case was delayed by the pandemic.
Judge Diane Freniere ordered that while on probation, Karwiel cannot use drugs or alcohol, a condition that will be enforced by random tests, and must undergo a mental health and substance abuse evaluation and any recommended treatment.
Karwiel was originally held without bail; it was later set at $25,000, which he then appealed in Superior Court, where it was reduced to $1,000.
He received credit for 17 days he spent in custody prior to being released on the reduced bail.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis