Susan Maki Schaff
Susan Maki Schaff (Courtesy Photo)

A 58-year-old woman was sentenced to prison on Monday for her sixth drunken-driving conviction.

District Judge G. Todd Baugh sentenced Susan Maki Schaff to 12 years at the Montana Women’s Prison, with four years suspended. Baugh imposed the sentence after designating Schaff a persistent felony offender, which can carry a sentence enhancement of up to 100 years.

Schaff was found guilty in November of felony DUI.

Baugh also imposed a $1,000 fine and a concurrent six-month jail sentence for having an expired registration. Baugh ordered the sentences to run consecutively with a five-year prison sentence Schaff is currently serving for violating probation on her fifth DUI out of Stillwater County.

The prosecution requested that Schaff receive a 15-year sentence, with five years suspended. Deputy County Attorney Ingrid Rosenquist said Schaff continues to drink despite completing several treatment programs. In November 2008, while on felony probation for DUI and one month after completing a treatment program, Schaff was found to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.338 percent, Rosenquist said.

Deputy Public Defender Michael Shin asked the judge to consider a 10-year sentence to the state Department of Corrections, with five years suspended. Schaff has received numerous letters of support that have described her as a “very talented” person who is generous and caring, Shin said.

Schaff was charged in September 2008 after Yellowstone County deputies found her passed out in a vehicle at the dead end of 72nd Street West. A breath test showed she had a blood-alcohol level of 0.186 percent.

At trial, Schaff argued she was not in actual physical control of the vehicle when she was arrested. The jury disagreed and returned a guilty verdict.

Schaff briefly apologized Monday before she was sentenced.

“Quit driving,” Baugh told the woman after imposing the prison sentence. “You’re going to kill somebody and then you’ll be in prison for the rest of your life.”