The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

May 9, 2013

Long prison term stands for repeat drunken driver

A repeat drunken driver who has been in prison since July will stay there until 2015 after losing an appeal to have his sentence reduced.
The 54-month prison sentence was originally stayed for David Donald Uhde, 45, of St. James after he was arrested for drunken driving for the eighth time in August 2008. The stay was lifted by Watonwan County District Court Judge Gregory Anderson in June because Uhde violated his probation.
Uhde was drunk when he was arrested during a domestic assault. One of the conditions of his probation was that he not use alcohol. His blood-alcohol concentration was .28 at the time of his arrest, more than three times the legal limit of .08 for driving.
Uhde told Anderson he had been sober from August 2008 to June 2012 but was feeling depressed and “made a mistake” by drinking instead of contacting his alcohol support group. He also said he drank nearly a liter of vodka in a short period of time to reach that level. 
Uhde asked the judge to order treatment in the community instead of prison time.
In his order revoking Uhde’s probation, Anderson said he was protecting the public by sending Uhde back to prison. Treatment, evaluations and short stays in jail were no longer an option, Anderson said.
“None of these requirements could reasonably guarantee public safety due to the immediacy of danger should (Uhde) choose to drink to a high level and then make the inebriated decision to drive,” Anderson’s order said.
Uhde appealed the ruling, saying Anderson abused his discretion because there was insufficient evidence for his conclusion that Uhde’s probation violation was “intentional and inexcusable” and that Uhde was a threat to the public. Citing Uhde’s long history of drunken driving, and the fact that he had been in prison once before for a felony drunken-driving conviction, the Court of Appeals upheld Anderson’s decision.

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