Drunk Driving Suspect Wants Treatment; No Beds Available

An Omaha man is out of jail on drunk driving charges awaiting treatment for his addiction. He has another problem though -- there isn't a bed available.

On February 21, 2011, Omaha police say Tom Forst plowed into a Chevy in Elkhorn.

Spun around by the force, Erik Stanislav didn't know what hit him. "I don't remember much..." The high school student will be okay.

Forst went to jail for it. Omaha police say the 34-year old had a blood alcohol level of more than four times the legal limit that afternoon.

He's been convicted of drunk driving three times before. This is his fourth arrest.

His attorney, Randy Paragas, says his client needs help and is staying away from alcohol. "We don't want drunk drivers on the road either. I have a 9-year old son. I don't advocate drunk driving. Just because we defend someone accused of it doesn't mean we advocate it."

Tom Forst bonded out of jail two weeks ago and yet he's still waiting for a bed to open up.

He's been making plans to treat his alcohol addiction at Catholic Charities Campus for Hope but says they may not have room for another two weeks.

Some wonder whether he should have this taste of freedom at all -- and if he's out drinking and driving.

The county attorney's office could have argued to the judge that if Tom Forst came up with the bond money -- $2,700 in this case -- he could only get out if he went straight to treatment. Otherwise you stay in jail.

The state didn't push that.

Experts say that is rare condition anyway, even for repeat drunk driving offenders, since treatment centers aren't lock down facilities anyway.

"The judge made a call in Tom's case that if you post these amount dollars, you go to treatment as soon as you can," says Paragas. "And that's what Tom is attempting to do. "

Once Forst gets a bed, he's expected to spend 28-days in treatment.

Forst's attorney says he doesn't think anyone dropped the ball in this case. It's just one of the hard truths of the system.


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