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County judge gets 12 months probation on DWI 2nd charge

Staff Writer
Herald Democrat
Grayson County Judge, shown here in a file photo from ealier this year, was sentenced to 12 months probation Monday for his Feb. 19 arrest on DWI second charge

Grayson County Judge Bill Magers was in the County Court-at-Law 2 courtroom Monday to resolve his drunk driving charge from February.

Magers pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated second offense and was sentenced by Judge Carol Siebman to 365 days in jail probated for 12 months.

As conditions of that probation, Magers must pay a $4,000 fine, do 200 hours of community service work at an organization like Mothers Against Drunk Driving or Four Rivers Outreach, maintain an interlock device on his vehicle and continue with outpatient DWI treatment including taking a monthly shot that helps curb alcohol cravings and inhibits intoxication.

He must also take a repeat DWI class offered by the county.

Siebman also sentenced Magers to serve some time in the county jail although she didn’t say a specific amount of time.

Former Grayson County District Attorney Bob Jarvis represented Magers in the hearing and afterward said that the time his client faces in jail could vary.

By law the amount of time could range from three days to one year. Jarvis said generally in Grayson County, if a person’s previous DWI offense before the one they are being sentenced for is more than five years old, they are given three days in jail. If the two offenses are less than five years apart, he said they are generally given five days in jail.

Jarvis said Seibman specified that Magers doesn’t have to serve that time immediately.

He said it was probated “until the governor’s order about COVID-19 changes the world,” and left it at that.

Magers entered his guilty plea without an agreement with the prosecutor in the case. Grayson County District Attorney Brett Smith recused his office from the case so it was handled by Collin County Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Laseter who asked Siebman to sentence Magers to 24 months of probation and 30 days jail time.

When sentencing Magers, Siebman said the contributing factors in her giving him a sentence on the lower end of what was available to her was the fact that the two DWI charges at play in the case were so far apart.

His last conviction was in 1995.

A Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper testified that he was in the parking lot of the Valero gas station in the 3700 block of U.S. Highway 765 at around 10 p.m. on Feb. 19 when he heard what sounded like a vehicle crash. He looked up and saw the truck that he would later found out belonged to Magers had struck a light pole in the parking lot of the Schulman's Movie Bowl Grille. The trooper said he then watched as the person driving that vehicle left Schulman's and drove across the highway to another gas station.

The trooper followed and the truck stopped.

The driver, who later identified himself as Bill Magers, got out of the truck and began looking around the back of the truck, the trooper said. The truck had struck the light pole with the front end of the truck so that was odd, he continued.

The trooper also testified that the driver smelled of alcohol and could not complete a sentence or thought out loud. He also refused to do a standard field sobriety test.

The trooper said Magers was never rude to him in any way and never took a "Do you know how I am?" kind of attitude. He simply said he had been told by an attorney to never agree to field sobriety tests.

The trooper said he was not aware of who he was dealing with until he contacted dispatch and they told him. He said he did call a supervisor because that is what they are instructed to do when they interact with a high-profile person.

That supervisor met them at the local hospital where Mager's blood was drawn for a blood alcohol test. That test would reveal that Mager's blood alcohol that night was 3.5 times the legal limit.

On the stand, Magers said he really doesn't remember much about that night.

He did remember a lot about the next few days though.

He remembered that his wife told him if he ever did anything like that again, she would leave him. He remembered the shame and humiliation he felt at having to tell his sons, who range in age from 15 to 21, what he had done. He also remembered the moment when he decided that he never wanted to feel any of that ever again.

He said he vowed to stop drinking.

The day after his February arrest, he issued a public statement apologizing for his actions and vowing to deal with his problem with alcohol because he wanted the people around him and the public to help him hold himself accountable to that promise.

Since that day, Magers said he hasn't had a drink. He has participated in both in-patient and out-patient alcohol treatment and taken shots designed to help with cravings for alcohol, and he has not had one failed screening for alcohol consumption.

Laeseter asked Magers about his previous problems with drinking and driving, and Magers said he had two arrests for alcohol related offenses within months of each other in 1995.

One was pled down to a lesser charge which was the usual practice in Grayson County at the time, and the second one, he was sentenced to 24 months probation. When he was asked what was going on in his life at that time that caused him to have issues with alcohol, Magers said his first marriage was falling apart, and his then wife was facing some serious medical problems.

He said his then wife eventually had surgery, and the marriage ended. Magers said he never felt like he had a problem with alcohol until a few years ago.

He said that since he has had children, he has always been involved in his children's after-school activities, primarily sports. Then a couple of years ago, his youngest child aged out of peewee sports.

"I had time on my hands," he noted that he soon found happy hour to be a social activity that he enjoyed. Then, he had shoulder surgeries. The first one went well and the second one didn't, he said. He was in constant pain and drank to help with that.

He said he drank at home at night as a way to deal with the stress in his life. He didn't feel it was a problem but knew his wife Angela was concerned.

Magers said he figured the drinking didn't keep him from getting up every day and doing what he was supposed to do, so it must not have been a problem until it was.

On February 19, he said he had been to several events and he didn't realize that the beers he consumed that night — nine, and one margarita — had left him intoxicated to the point that he was over 3 times the legal limit. He testified he was texting his wife when he hit the pole in the Schulmann's parking lot.

He said he has not had a drink since that night, and he never plans to have another one again. Magers said he knows he let down the people of the county, including its employees, by drinking and driving.

He said he wants them all to see that he can and will overcome that problem.

Magers was first elected as Grayson County Judge back in May of 2014 after taking on three other Republicans for the position after Grayson County Judge Drue Bynum decided not to seek another term. Magers had previously served as the mayor of the city of Sherman. A graduate of both Sherman High School and Austin College, Magers was born and raised in Sherman.