A 34-year-old Ketchum man will spend at least another 90 days incarcerated under the care of the Idaho Department of Correction for getting caught driving drunk one too many times.
Matthew Bradley Connor pleaded guilty to felony DUI in November. He was charged with a felony in an arrest by Sun Valley police earlier that year because of two misdemeanor DUI convictions in 2011.
At a Monday sentencing hearing in Blaine County 5th District Court, defense attorney Keith Roark noted that his client has already served more than seven months in jail and asked that he be sentenced to time served and released.
But Judge Robert Elgee saw things otherwise and sentenced to Connor to the IDOC “rider program,” wherein convicted felons are given the opportunity for rehabilitation. Under the rider program, a sentence, at the discretion of IDOC, can be for as short as 90 days or as long as a year.
Elgee also gave Connor a five-year suspended prison sentence and suspended his driver’s license for one year, effective upon his release from custody.
The judge noted that Connor recognizes that he has an alcohol problem, but ruled that he needed professional care, available through the IDOC rehabilitation program, in overcoming it.
“There’s something under your skin and you’ve got to find it,” Elgee told Connor. “You’ll probably have to dig deep to find it, and if you don’t, you’ll probably be back here. And I think you know that.”
Connor’s latest arrest occurred in Sun Valley on Feb. 4, 2012. He was released on bond after spending about seven weeks in jail but was arrested again in July for violating the terms and conditions of his release. He had remained in the Blaine County jail since then on $200,000 bond.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Fredback noted at sentencing that Connor had a blood-alcohol level of .281 when arrested for DUI and described the level as “extremely high and extremely dangerous to be driving.”
The legal blood-alcohol limit for driving in Idaho is .08.
Fredback said Connor needed an extensive rehabilitation program because he has both an alcohol and drug problem.
“Mr. Connor says he’s an artist and drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana help him to be a better artist, but I think there’s something else going on here,” Fredback said. “Hopefully he’s hit the bottom because there’s nowhere else for him to go. I don’t think he’s an appropriate candidate for probation.”
Roark described his client as an “extremely talented and extremely sensitive human being” who is trying to correct the problems in his life.
“He would like to go home,” Roark said. “He understands perhaps better than any of us that he needs to overcome his particular demon.”
Terry Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org