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Woman gets jail time for driving wrong way on highway in third DUI

Crime Watch

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Melody Wenrich | Jefferson County Jail

RIGBY — A woman with a history of DUIs will have to serve time in the county jail after driving drunk the wrong way on U.S. Highway 20.

Melody Wenrich, 48, pleaded guilty in March to felony driving under the influence, and District Judge Stevan Thompson handed down her sentence on Friday. According to Jefferson County Prosecutor Paul Butikofer, Thompson ordered Wenrich to spend time in the county jail but postponed it due to COVID-19.

Wenrich already spent 21 days behind bars for the DUI and under Idaho law she must spend at least 30 days in jail. Thompson gave Wenrich 45 days in jail but if she behaves before reporting to jail in September, she will only have to serve nine days to reach a total of 30, according to Butikofer.

In addition to the jail time, Thompson gave a suspended three to seven years in prison and placed Wenrich on four years of probation. Her driver’s license is suspended for a year and once Wenrich’s driving privileges are returned, she will have to use an interlock device.

Thompson also ordered Wenrich to perform 100 hours of community service.

Butikofer said a presentence report recommended Wenrich get the suspended prison sentence. He said she had been successful on probation before despite not learning her lesson and getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol.

Police reports show the Rigby Police Department stopped Weenrich on Nov. 24 while she was driving westbound in the eastbound lanes of U.S. Highway 20. According to court documents, Wenrich’s blood alcohol concentration was three times the legal limit.

Officers noticed a bottle of liquor laying on the passenger side floor. An Idaho State Police trooper and a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office deputy arrived and investigators attempted to perform a field sobriety test.

According to court documents, Wenrich struggled to maintain balance, slurred words and did not want to take the test.

The officer took Wenrich into custody and she was taken to jail. She consented to take two breathalyzer tests. Both showed Wenrich’s blood alcohol concentration as .26 percent. The legal limit in Idaho is .08 percent.

Butikofer said Wenrich’s BAC was so high it required law enforcement to take her to the hospital and get her medically cleared to ensure she did not have alcohol poisoning.

In 2015, Wenrich pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DUI, and Magistrate Judge Robert Crowley placed her on probation in Jefferson County with a period of house arrest instead of jail time. A little over a year after being discharged from probation, Wenrich pleaded guilty to a second misdemeanor DUI in Madison County. Magistrate Judge Mark Rammell placed her on a year of probation with a suspended jail sentence.

In addition to her sentence, Thompson ordered Wenrich pay $2,165.50 in fees and fines.

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