I-Team

Confessions of a repeat offender

CREATED Feb 19, 2014 - UPDATED: Feb 19, 2014

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FOX LAKE- Mark Lepak has 7 drunk driving convictions.  TODAY'S TMJ4'S Tom Murray recently spoke with Lepak at the Fox Lake Correctional Institution, a medium security prison in Dodge County.  We were stunned when Lepak gave us an estimate of how many time he has driven drunk.

Lepak:  "For the seven drunk drivings, probably at least 100 times each, if I had to guess."

Tom Murray:  "By that math, you have driven drunk more than 700 times."

Lepak:  "Yes."

Murray:  "And, each time, putting everyone else on the road in danger."

Lepak:  "Definitely."

Lepak has been arrested in several counties, and 2 states.  He was on probation for a Wisconsin drunk driving conviction when he crashed his Harley in 2012.  Mark insists he knows driving drunk is wrong.  He blames a lifetime battle with alcoholism that began in high school.  Mark is now 43 years old.

Murray:  "What will prevent you from drinking and driving again?"

Lepak:  "Death, that's one of the few options.  One of the things you learn going to AA and stuff is basically it's death or prison.  Those are the two places most addicts end up."

Jan Withers is President of the national chapter of the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD.  She says, "There is no excuse today for anyone to get behind the wheel after they've been drinking."

Withers' own 15-year-old daughter was killed by a drunk driver.  Her organization is calling on Wisconsin to require ignition interlocks for all convicted OWI offenders.

"Some people think tougher penalties or revoking the license, throwing them in jail.  What we've learned is those are not as effective as having alcohol ignition interlocks for their vehicles," Withers explains.

Lepak says the true punishment of prison is not being on the other side of that fence--it's missed time with family and loved ones.  He is missing years of his son's life, and hopes this report will stop others from making the same poor choices.  

Lepak:  "Now this time, it's going to be almost 6 years, he's only 12 years old, more than half of his life."

Murray:  "How many birthday parties have you missed?"

Lepak:  "I don't know.  It's not something you keep track of."

Murray:  "Too many?"

Lepak:  "Too many."

Lepak admits he gave little thought to that lost time or paying the price in prison when he went out to drink beer and shots.

Murray:  "Has any thought of consequences and prison time ever deterred you from drinking and driving?"

Lepak:  "Not really.  It's never been, 'If I do this and I go out and drive, this is where I'm going to end up again.'  It may have crossed my mind, but honestly, no."

Lepak is certainly not alone.  He is one of more than 150 Wisconsin residents who have been convicted of drunk driving seven or more times.