Nate Montana pleads guilty to reckless driving; DUI charge dropped

2011-07-13T06:15:00Z 2011-07-13T06:21:14Z Nate Montana pleads guilty to reckless driving; DUI charge droppedBy GWEN FLORIO of the Missoulian missoulian.com
July 13, 2011 6:15 am  • 

University of Montana quarterback Nate Montana, charged last month with driving drunk, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of reckless driving and has dropped his quest to get his license restored.

The son of NFL great Joe Montana was stopped at about 3:15 a.m. June 3 for allegedly driving 39 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone on Van Buren Street.

Montana also was charged with DUI after Missoula County Sheriff's Deputy Ken Guy said he smelled alcohol and that Montana fumbled with his driver's license when asked to produce it, Missoula County Sheriff's Detective Jason Johnson said at the time.

Montana refused a breath alcohol test and performed poorly on maneuvers to test his sobriety, both at the scene and at the Missoula County jail, Johnson said.

His performance was not, however, poor enough to warrant following through with the DUI charge, Deputy Missoula County Attorney Jennifer Clark said Tuesday.

Montana's attorney, Dennis Lind of Datsopoulos, MacDonald and Lind, said Tuesday that "based on the facts and circumstances as we reviewed them and in discussions with the County Attorney's Office, we felt it appropriate and we agreed that this was a case that did not warrant a DUI ticket, and it was reduced to reckless driving."

Montana pleaded guilty June 23 to the reckless driving charge, and paid a total of $435 in fines and court costs. The speeding charge was dropped. He was sentenced to 90 days in the Missoula County jail, all suspended, and ordered to complete a chemical dependency evaluation.

Clark said Tuesday she figures the County Attorney's Office will take some heat for reducing the charge.

"We looked at it as though, if this was Joe Schmo, would we still charge him" with DUI, she said. "And we wouldn't. We have to do the right thing."

Because Montana refused the breath test, he automatically lost his driver's license for six months.

Last week, Lind filed a petition in Missoula County District Court asking the Montana Division of Motor Vehicles to reinstate Montana's license, contending that it shouldn't have been suspended in the first place.

Lind maintained that Guy didn't have reasonable suspicion to stop the 2011 white Toyota that Montana was driving that night, and likewise didn't have probable cause to believe that Montana was drunk.

Nor did Montana "knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily refuse the breath test," the petition said.

On Monday, however, Lind withdrew the petition.

"We thought we at least needed to make the allegation until we reviewed all of the factual circumstances surrounding" Montana's arrest, Lind said. "We made a concerted decision" to drop it.

Greg Noose, chief of the DMV's Records and Driver Control Bureau, said Tuesday that about 25 percent of the 2,842 people who lost their licenses last year for refusing a breath test sought to have them reinstated. About half of those requests were granted, he said.

UM athletic director Jim O'Day said Montana will "be subject to the same internal disciplining as any student athlete convicted of a misdemeanor traffic offense."

The discipline will be administered by the head football coach, and the offense violated neither the UM student code of conduct nor the code of conduct for student athletes, he said.

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