TRAVERSE CITY — A woman authorities found passed out behind the wheel of a car near her son's school bus stop was the first to be sentenced in a newly launched drug treatment court.
Anna Rachelle Blanchard, 33, was sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years of probation Monday in 86th District Court, a sentence her attorney Gerald Chefalo said gives her ample opportunity to earn long-term sobriety.
Chefalo said Blanchard has not used drugs since Sept. 13, when a Traverse City police officer said he found her passed out in a car on Washington Street where she waited to pick up her 5-year-old son from a nearby bus stop.
"She's had a lot of time to show herself and prove to her family, and maybe in part to the judge that she's capable of remaining sober and compliant," Chefalo said. "She has a wonderful attitude as well."
Court records state the officer found Midazolam, an anesthetic, and syringes in the car. He suspected the Midazolam was stolen and contended she had used drugs before driving to the stop.
Blanchard was charged with possession of cocaine — a felony punishable by up to four years in prison — larceny, possession of a controlled substance and operating while intoxicated Sept. 19 in district court.
Blanchard on Oct. 7 requested her case go through the drug treatment court, where participants work with prosecutors, Judge Thomas Phillips, therapists and community corrections workers to complete individually tailored programs.
Chefalo commended Blanchard's request to have her case go through the program.
"It takes work, and it's daily work and it never ends," Chefalo said. "This program will be part of that. It certainly has some forced components and fear, if you will, that if you decide that you don't want to participate there's some consequences that you probably aren't going to like."
Consequences include possible jail time or a felony drug conviction staying on drug court participants' records, Chefalo said. The felony charge will be scrubbed from Blanchard's record if she follows her probation terms.
"It's very important for her to try to work toward that goal of getting this off of her record," Chefalo said. "She can see what her life is like when she's using and it's scary and it's ugly and you're out of control."