More than twice the legal limit of alcohol for drivers, with a side of cocaine, coursed through Nicholas Chaban when he received a DUI citation in December 2013.
By September, he had racked up three more.
Chaban, 54, former chief financial officer for the Philadelphia health-care provider Mazzoni Center, pleaded guilty Friday to all four DUIs, as well as trespassing and drug-possession charges that came in May after he was bounced from a Conshohocken bar.
"I've got five files in front of me," said Montgomery County Court Judge Cheryl Austin. "That's a record."
Chaban, however, is not going to prison. The Norristown resident was sentenced to time served, inpatient rehab, and two years of probation. Austin could not give him much more.
Under a state law that has been changed since Chaban was charged, each of his drunken-driving offenses counted as a first offense, because all occurred before he was sentenced for the initial arrest.
"This guy's exceedingly lucky he didn't kill somebody," said Assistant District Attorney Bradford Richman, head of the year-old DUI unit in the prosecutor's office.
In July, Chaban was arrested in Conshohocken twice within a week for drunken driving. In the second incident, he drove into six parked cars.
On two occasions, his blood-alcohol level topped 0.16 percent, twice the legal definition of drunken driving. In September, he drove away from an accident in Whitpain Township and into a fence. He remained in jail after that until Friday's hearing.
Changes to the law went into effect Dec. 31. They ensure that multiple DUIs are counted as subsequent offenses - and carry increasingly stiffer penalties - even if they occur before a defendant has been convicted or sentenced on the first. The judge noted during Friday's sentencing that she could have sent Chaban to state prison if his glut of offenses had happened this year.
Montgomery County has also changed the way it handles habitual drunken drivers. A repeat offender's cases are now all assigned to one prosecutor. The office is also increasing its efforts to revoke bail for people arrested on a second DUI. In some cases, prosecutors ask judges to make operating a vehicle a bail violation and seek to have defendants surrender their licenses as a bail condition, Richman said.
Chaban, who wore a denim prison jacket at the hearing, didn't speak at length. His lawyer, Vincent Cirillo, described him as a family man in crisis. Marital problems, an elderly father, and stress from work contributed to a breakdown, he said.
"At some point in time, anyone can really hit a breaking point and basically go over the edge," Cirillo said.
Chaban has two master's degrees and a history of drunken driving - with four arrests between 1984 and 2002.
Additional legislation is in the works to keep drunken drivers off the road. Mothers Against Drunk Driving is supporting state bills to require that an interlock system, which uses a Breathalyzer test to start a car, be installed for six months in first-time offenders' vehicles. A similar law is awaiting Gov. Christie's signature in New Jersey.
"It teaches sober driving behavior," said Frank Harris, MADD's director of state government affairs, "that license suspension alone just can't."