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Man receives record 30 years prison for felony DUI conviction

Man receives record 30 years prison for felony DUI conviction

  • Updated

John Harvey Hoots may have set an ignoble state record on Friday.

District Judge Gregory R. Todd sentenced Hoots to 30 years in prison for felony DUI.

Deputy Yellowstone County Attorney Julie R. Patten said she and her colleagues believe that that is the longest prison sentence handed down for felony DUI in the state’s history.

Patten said Hoots, 55, has been convicted of DUI at least 10 times.

A jury found Hoots guilty of DUI and misdemeanor counts of driving without a valid license and driving without insurance at trial last April.

Those charges stemmed from an incident on July 31, 2012, about six weeks after Hoots had been released from prison on a 10-year sentence for an earlier DUI conviction.

According to witnesses at the trial, a neighbor, Daniel Belmarez, called 911 at about 7 p.m. to report that Hoots had dropped his pants to the ground and exposed himself outside a residence on South 28th Street.

Court records say Hoots drove away in a pickup truck as officers responded to the area. Officers pulled him over and arrested him on suspicion of DUI.

A blood sample showed he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.20 percent, two and a half times the state legal limit of 0.08.

Hoots testified at trial that he drove off because Belmarez threatened to shoot him with a gun, which Belmarez denied.

Hoots’ attorney, David Arthur, argued that the jury should find Hoots not guilty because state law allows a person to commit a crime to avoid serious injury or death.

The jury apparently disagreed and convicted him after an hour of deliberation.

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