Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Felony DUI convict sent to rehab

Man drove through Hailey with blood-alcohol level of .349

Express Staff Writer

Micah Matthew Haugland

A 34-year-old Idaho Falls man, who drove through Hailey last summer with a blood-alcohol level more than four times the legal limit, will get a chance at alcohol rehabilitation through the Idaho Department of Correction.

At sentencing March 12 for Micah Matthew Haugland, Blaine County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Fredback said that Haugland's blood-alcohol level when he was arrested on July 26, 2011, was .349. The legal driving limit in Idaho is .08.

Fredback said Haugland was on his way from Idaho Falls to Ketchum that day when he was pulled over by Hailey police for entering a crosswalk with a police officer in it during a crosswalk sting.

"The fact that he had driven that far with a blood-alcohol content that high was amazing," Fredback said. "Most people couldn't even stand up with a blood-alcohol level that high, let alone drive."

"That's as high as I've ever seen," said Blaine County 5th District Court Judge Robert J. Elgee in pronouncing sentence on Haugland for felony DUI.

Haugland was charged with a felony because of prior misdemeanor DUI convictions in 2002 in Adams County and in 2007 in Albany County, Wyo.

Haugland has spent 189 days in the Blaine County jail since his arrest. He was released on bond in September but was arrested again for violating the conditions of his release.

Fredback said Haugland has a "serious alcohol problem" and his criminal record shows nine alcohol-related offenses.

Hailey attorney Christopher Simms, assigned as public defender, asked that Haugland be placed on probation and be allowed to apply for admittance into a DUI court in Idaho Falls.

But Elgee, who oversees Blaine County's Drug Court, said he had no indication that Haugland would be accepted in the DUI court. Instead, Elgee said that because of his past record that Haugland needed to go through a structured rehabilitation program before being released.

Elgee further told the defendant that various drug and alcohol courts, which offer rehabilitation in lieu of incarceration, typically have extremely strict requirements.

"Be careful of what you wish for," Elgee said. "When you dance with a gorilla, you dance as long as the gorilla wants to."

Instead, Elgee sentenced Haugland to at least 90 days incarceration in an Idaho Department of Correction alcohol rehabilitation program for intensive inpatient treatment. He also gave Haugland a five-year suspended prison sentence.

Elgee told Haugland that if he's serious about rehabilitation, he could be released within 90 days. If not, the stay will likely be longer, the judge said.

Terry Smith:

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