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Michigan lawmaker fined $1,000 for violation of court order in drunken driving case

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Rep. Jewell Jones was ordered to pay $1,000 for failing to keep up to date on his alcohol tether payments, a failure that prompted the company managing the tether to shut it off last week. 

Livingston County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hatty said the violation was "disheartening" and warned the Inkster Democrat Friday that, if there are any more violations, he will "be looking at jail."

State Rep. Jewell Jones appears beside his lawyer, Ali Hammoud, during a bond hearing in Livingston County Circuit Court on Friday, July 23, 2021.

Livingston County prosecutors had asked that Hatty revoke Jones' bond because of the failure to comply with the conditions set in June by a district court judge, who had ordered the tether because of a prior bond violation.

"The court’s orders can’t be disrespected and Judge (Daniel) Bain went out of his way to put a system in place to ensure compliance with the alcohol testing," Hatty said. 

Emily Shelton, of the 53rd District Court probation office, testified that the tether monitoring company contacted Jones at least four times ahead of the July 14 shutoff to remind him to pay. 

At one point, Shelton said, Jones responded "No worries. I see the email. Thank you! I don't get a discount???"

Jones made a payment to the company after hours on July 14 and his tether was turned back on July 15, Shelton said.

Jones' lawyer, Ali Hammoud, told Hatty that Jones was busy volunteering in relation to flooding in Detroit during that time period.

"It was a rough week for him," Hammoud said. "There was a flood, he was helping out at the church, he had some activities. There was no way for him to know that the tether was shut off. It wasn’t until he got home and looked at the screen.”

Jones was also brought before Livingston County District Judge Daniel Bain last month when he was accused of misrepresenting the circumstances surrounding military orders that prevented him from getting his court-ordered drug and alcohol testing. 

Bain had allowed Jones to suspend pretrial drug and alcohol testing for June 12-26 training with the Michigan National Guard at Camp Grayling, according to court records.

But prosecutors argued Jones during that time frame tagged himself on Facebook as being at Planet Fitness in Wayne and legislative records indicate he was in Lansing for committee meetings, according to court records.

Jones was bound over to circuit court on June 30 on charges of resisting and obstructing a police officer; operating a vehicle with a high blood alcohol content; operating while intoxicated; reckless driving; and possession of a weapon while under the influence of alcohol.

Jones was arrested on April 6 after his black Chevy Tahoe drifted in and out of lanes along Interstate 96 before pulling off the shoulder and into a ditch, according to a Michigan State Police report. 

He is accused of struggling with Michigan State Police troopers after the crash and allegedly told officers that he'd call the governor and that he had oversight of the MSP budget. 

Jones' blood alcohol content, according to the police report, was 0.19. The legal driving limit is 0.08. 

eleblanc@detroitnews.com