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A look at Montana felony DUI laws

A look at Montana’s felony DUI law

A Polson man is in prison after picking up his recent 12th DUI conviction, but the question remains as to how someone gets a dozen DUI’s before getting an extensive prison sentence.

Gyme Kelly, who was convicted for his 12th DUI, received his first conviction in 1976, and all of the DUIs have been committed in Montana.

With the current state felony DUI laws, someone could have multiple DUI convictions and receive the same sentence on say a 10th DUI conviction, that they would have received on their first felony DUI.

Montana law says a felony DUI offender can be sentenced to a maximum of 13 months in the Montana Department of Corrections plus be put on a five year probation after that. The Montana Legislature set this law and judges have to follow it.

Lake County District Court Judge Kim Christopher says she sent Gyme Kelly to prison on his 12th DUI because he needed to be supervised for the rest of his life. She says Kelly was on probation for a prior DUI, when he committed the 12th one, making him a persistent felony offender.

This status gives her the authority to give him a stricter sentence than the one a felony DUI calls for.

“What I was looking for was something that would provide consistent, constant supervision for the rest of his life, because, obviously, alcohol is something that treatment has not been successful, at least up to this point,” Judge Christopher explained.

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