Written by The Herald-News
Jason Pautz appeared in Montana 15th Judicial Court to change his plea from “not guilty” to “guilty” on the felony charge of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (fourth offense).
In addition to the felony charge, Pautz changed his plea from “not guilty” to “guilty” on the misdemeanor charges of obstructing a peace officer, fleeing or eluding from a peace officer, reckless driving, driving with a suspended driver’s license and operating without insurance (second offense).
Pautz had originally been charged with criminal endangerment, but the charge was reduced to negligent endangerment, to which he also pleaded “guilty.”
According to court documents, Dec. 10, 2012, Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Baker was on patrol and traveling east on U.S. Hwy. 2 when he noticed a small red pickup truck with a topper traveling faster than the speed limit. Baker activated his radar and clocked the vehicle at 84 miles per hour, heading toward him.
Baker activated his emergency lights to conduct a traffic stop. As he came close to the truck, the vehicle continued to travel west in the eastbound lane before it turned south into an oil well site. The deputy continued to attempt to stop the vehicle. The vehicle shut off its lights on the site. When Baker found the vehicle, the pickup once again drove off at a high rate of speed and returned to the highway. Baker notified dispatch that he was in pursuit.
Court documents state that, as the pursuit continued west, the truck hit speeds of 100 miles per hour and crossed the center line and fog lines several times. At around mile marker 650, Baker noticed sparks on the highway.
The pursuit continued west before the driver of the truck slammed on his brakes, forcing Baker to slam on his brakes to avoid a collision. After Baker avoided a collision, the vehicle drove off. Baker was informed that Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Deputy Vernon First had deployed stop sticks at mile marker 635. Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Deputy Patrick O’Connor was waiting to assist at mile marker 633.
The vehicle hit the stop sticks before coming to a halt from a flat tire. The driver, identified as Jason Pautz, was taken into custody. The smell of an alcoholic beverage emitted from inside of the vehicle. There was an empty beer bottle by the driver’s seat.
O’Connor assisted Baker with the DUI processing and transported Pautz to the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office. O’Connor noticed Pautz’s slurred speech, the smell of alcohol coming from his breath, poor coordination and glassy, bloodshot eyes. The defendant also did poorly on one field sobriety test and refused to perform two others. After O’Connor advised Pautz of the Montana DOJ Implied Consent Advisory form, Pautz refused to provide a blood or breath sample.
Upon further investigation, O’Connor learned that Pautz had past DUI convictions. He applied for a telephonic search warrant to collect a blood sample from the defendant through Roosevelt County Justice of the Peace Tracy Harada. The warrant was approved and blood was obtained by Northeast Montana Health Services in Wolf Point.
Pautz was incarcerated in the Roosevelt County Detention Center. A driving history was checked through the National Crime Information Center and previous records showed that Pautz had past DUI convictions in Montana and Oregon.
During the hearing, Judge David Cybulski advised Pautz of his rights. Pautz testified to the facts of the offenses and the court accepted the plea after the judge found it was voluntary.
Cybulski sentenced Pautz to six months in Department of Corrections, with credit for time served (67 days), for first two charges, with a fine of $7,150.