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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Chronic DWI offender sentenced

  • Man pleaded guilty to 9th DWI in Jan.
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  • A Rolla man who pleaded guilty to his ninth charge of driving while intoxicated earlier this year was sentenced to 15 years in prison Thursday.
    According to the Phelps County prosecuting attorney’s office, 30-year-old Thomas Johnson will serve his sentence in the Missouri Department of Corrections.
    Judge D. Gregory Warren ordered that the 15-year sentence be served consecutively with any other sentences that Johnson is currently serving.
    Phelps County Prosecuting Attorney John Beger noted that Johnson is currently serving sentences of seven and 10 years for his previous two DWIs from Dent and Texas counties.
    On Jan. 13, 2014, Johnson pleaded guilty to his ninth DWI.
    According to the prosecutor’s office, on May 13, 2013, Sgt. Ronald Copeland, of the Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop I, was patrolling Highway CC near Private Drive 7085 when he observed a 2005 Chrysler Sebring cross over the centerline into oncoming traffic.
    After making contact with the driver, who turned out to be Johnson, Copeland said he immediately smelled the odor of alcohol emanating from Johnson.
    Copeland administered a number of field sobriety tests which he said Johnson performed poorly on.  Johnson then refused to provide a sample of his breath to determine his blood alcohol content, according to Copeland.
    “I am very pleased with the sentence in this case,” said Beger. “My office will continue to prosecute DWIs aggressively, particularly repeat offenders. Every time a drunk driver gets behind the wheel, everyone is at risk ... We are all safer with Mr. Johnson behind bars.”
    According to Assistant Prosecutor Brendon Fox, who prosecuted the case, Johnson will not likely be eligible for parole until 2025.
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