A man whose drunken-driving crash killed three people in 2011 was sentenced to seven more years in prison Monday for violating the terms of his probation.
Kevin Coffay, 28, was convicted in 2012 of manslaughter by motor vehicle, Police say that on May 15, 2011, he crashed into trees in a wooded area off Md. 108 in northern Montgomery County. Haeley McGuire, 18, Johnny Hoover, 20, and Spencer Datt, 18, died in the crash.
All were graduates or students at Magruder High School.
Another passenger survived.
Hoover’s mother, the only family member to speak on Monday, said that since the crash, she has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
“For a long time I would wake up and have images of the accident even though I wasn’t there,” she said.
Coffay, who fled the scene, was also charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving bodily injury or death.
Coffay, according to court documents, was driving at a “grossly excessive speed” and registered a blood alcohol level of .16 three hours after the crash — twice the concentration of .08 that Maryland law defines as “under the influence.”
He was sentenced to 20 years in prison in January 2012. A three-judge panel reviewed the sentence three months later and reduced it to eight years.
As part of the agreement, Coffay was given five years of supervised probation. He also received seven years of “backup time,” meaning the amount of time he might have to serve if he violated probation.
Coffay was released from prison on parole in 2016, court documents state. He later had his driver license and privilege restored on the condition that he use an ignition interlock device for two years. The device prevents a car from starting if the driver’s breath registers a blood-alcohol level that is too high.
Coffay was also prohibited from consuming alcohol for an “indefinite period” according to court documents.
Court documents state that Coffay was cited for six traffic offenses from June 2018, when he received his license, until September 2019. The violations included driving without the interlock system in place. He also registered a blood-alcohol level above .025 on multiple occasions — a level that is below Maryland’s legal limit but will trigger the interlock and prevent the car from starting.
In November, Coffay told a Montgomery County District Court judge that he violated the terms of his probation by driving without the interlock device. Court documents state that Coffay admitted to driving without the interlock system in the car, driving while his license was suspended, driving without a license and driving with no insurance. Coffay received a two-year sentence for the violations, which he is currently serving.
Montgomery County Circuit Judge Jeannie Cho on Monday imposed a new seven-year sentence on Coffay. She said that that is the maximum sentence she can impose because it is equal to the amount of “backup time” time that he was to receive if he violated his probation. The seven-year figure was part of the April 2012 sentencing.
Coffay’s seven-year-sentence will begin after he completes his current sentence.
Coffay, in addressing the court, said he made “serious mistakes” and that he needed professional help.
“I respect whatever sentence or punishment you give me. All I ask is that I get some form of treatment,” he said.
During Monday’s hearing, Cho said a two-year interlock program was “not that lengthy” and pointed out that the first time he registered a blood-alcohol level above the interlock limit was three months after he was reissued a license.
“Upon being given this privilege that comes with having a license, your interlock violations began almost immediately,” she said.
Cho also pointed to a record of more than 100 times when the interlock recorded alcohol in Coffay’s body, even if it was below the limit. She said rather than drive, Coffay could take alternative methods of transportation.
Assistant State’s Attorney Bryan Roslund argued for the maximum penalty of seven years, while defense attorney Steve Chaikin argued for a lesser sentence, combined with rehabilitation.
Chaikin said on Monday that Coffay was “crippled” by his actions, but was starting to get his life back on track and earned a bachelor’s degree from Salisbury University.
“Kevin is not someone who walks around thumbing his nose, thinking he’s getting away with something,” Chaikin said.
Cho said she didn’t think probation would be a fitting punishment, because Coffay already had an opportunity to seek treatment after he was released from prison the first time.
State’s Attorney John McCarthy told reporters following the hearing that he agreed with Cho’s decision to award the maximum sentence because it was in the public interest.
“This was about public protection,” he said.
Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.email@example.com