A Hill Valley resident, one of two local men who appeared in court recently for sentencing on DUI charges, will serve time in state prison on account of his third offense.
Heath Himes, 29, was sentenced in Huntingdon County Court Feb. 6 to a prison term of one to five years after entering a guilty plea to DUI: Highest Rate of Alcohol, 3rd Offense. The charge, which is a first-degree misdemeanor, stems from an arrest made Jan. 21, 2018, by state police in Huntingdon Borough.
His sentence includes a $2,500 fine and 30 hours of community service, plus participation in driving school among other requirements.
The court determined Himes is eligible for the state’s RRRI (Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive) program which will reduce his minimum stay to nine months. Visiting Judge Daniel Milliron of Blair County, who presided over the case, gave him credit for the 30 days he spent in a treatment program. After the sentence was issued, Himes was taken into immediate custody.
The defendant also entered guilty pleas to four summary charges — disregard for traffic lanes, depositing waste on the highway, careless driving and restrictions on alcoholic beverages — resulting in fines totaling $160.
According to the affidavit filed by state police, the arresting trooper noticed a dark BWM sedan driving through town with its turn signal activated. The trooper also observed the vehicle crossing over lanes of travel and initiated a traffic stop.
Himes, the driver, who was accompanied by a passenger, told the trooper he’d just come from a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Huntingdon. While speaking with Himes, the trooper said he could smell alcohol and observed empty beer cans inside the vehicle.
Subsequent tests showed Himes had an alcohol blood concentration of .174 percent, plus THC and oxycodone in his system.
Himes was previously charged with DUI following an arrest by the Lock Haven Police Department in April 2012 and by the Lewistown Police Department in February 2013.
Petersburg area resident Nickolas Boonie, 28, stood before Huntingdon County President Judge George Zanic Feb. 11 to enter guilty pleas relative to a DUI arrest by state police last year. Boonie was originally scheduled for a non-jury trial with Zanic but opted to entered a plea instead.
Boonie’s April 28, 2018, arrest represented his second for driving under the influence of alcohol. State police report the defendant crashed a 2009 Yamaha Star motorcycle while traveling Charter Oak Road in West Township and subsequent tests revealed he had a BAC of .146 percent.
For the second offense DUI charge, Zanic ordered Boonie to spend five days to six months in county jail. He was also fined $1,000 and will lose his driver’s license for 12 months. After his license is restored, he will have to comply with the state’s Interlock law for one year.
Boonie also pleaded guilty to the second degree misdemeanor offense of recklessly endangering another person. He will serve one year of probation following completion of his sentence on the DUI change and was fined $300.
Zanic told Boonie to meet with Huntingdon County Probation Department staff to set up a date to report to the county jail.
“They will try to minimize any issues with work,” the judge said.
First assistant district attorney Julia Wilt said she discussed the plea with the arresting officer, Trooper Joshua Kleinfleter, and told the court Kleinfelter was in agreement with the penalty.
“He said Mr. Boonie was very cooperative,” Wilt said, noting the trooper indicated he did not want the sentence to cost Boonie his job.
“There are people who make a lot of excuses and there are those who don’t. (Boonie) is one of the ones who doesn’t,” defense attorney Brian Manchester of Bellefonte said. “He’s taking responsibility.”
Effective January of this year, third offense DUIs, regardless of a defendant’s BAC, are now categorized as felonies of the third degree. The change in the state law impacts persons arrested and charged after the effective date and not pending cases.
Wilt said the change from a misdemeanor offense to a felony increases the penalty for third-time DUI offenders. Third degree felonies, she explained, are punishable by up to seven years in state prison, two years longer than the previous maximum penalty.
Rebecca can be reached at email@example.com.