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Ronan man faces charges for 10th DUI

Ronan man faces charges for 10th DUI

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POLSON - A Ronan man accused of driving drunk for the 10th time since his first drunken-driving conviction in 1985 will stay in the Lake County jail on $25,000 bail, despite his attorney's plea that the man is a good candidate for release without bail pending trial.

Kenneth Wayne Plouffe, 38, was stopped by Flathead Tribal Police in southern Lake County on April 30 for driving too fast - 65 mph in a 45 mph zone. According to court documents, Plouffe told the officer even before he took a sobriety test that he had been drinking and that he was already on probation for a felony DUI.

Plouffe was sentenced 13 months in Department of Corrections custody in July 2002 for felony drunken driving in Flathead County. Last June, he was back in jail for violating his probation and ultimately received a five-year prison sentence.

But the sentence was suspended, according to Department of Corrections records.

On May 11 in Lake County District Court, Plouffe pleaded not guilty to the 10th DUI charge.

His public defender, Ben Anciaux, told District Judge C.B. McNeil that Plouffe "has a drinking problem." But he has no money to post bond, Anciaux said. He's also a longtime resident of the Flathead and has family in Lake County, making him a candidate for own-recognizance release, his attorney said.

But after hearing about Plouffe's string of previous DUIs from prosecutor Mitch Young, McNeil denied the bail reduction.

Young said Plouffe has previous DUI convictions in Browning in 1985, 1986 and 1993; in Kalispell City Court in 1987 and 1992; in Flathead County Justice Court in 1988, 1990, 1997 and 2001. The last conviction was a felony.

Convictions prior to 2001 were all misdemeanors - because Montana had not yet made fourth and subsequent drunken-driving charges mandatory felonies.

In the most recent arrest, a breath test revealed Plouffe had a 0.21 blood alcohol level, far above the legal limit of 0.08. His conditions of probation do not allow him to consume any alcohol.

A pretrial hearing is scheduled for June 7.

Reporter John Stromnes can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or at jstromnes@missoulian.com.

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