KEVIN D. JOHNSTON, d/o/b 1-20-1959, of Kirbyville, was sentenced on Thursday, February 13, 2014, to eight (8) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections for the class B felony of driving while intoxicated. Taney County Circuit Court Judge Mark Orr sentenced Johnston after hearing arguments from both the defense and the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office, as there was no plea agreement as to what sentence Johnston would receive.

On December 18, 2013, Johnston appeared before Judge Orr and entered a guilty plea in one case to driving while intoxicated and driving with a revoked license for an arrest on May 8, 2013, initiated by a Hollister Police Officer Bobby Smith. During the course of the traffic stop by Officer Smith, it was apparent that Johnston had been drinking. Because Johnston refused to take the field sobriety tests, as well as the breath test, Officer Smith applied for a search warrant to draw Johnston’s blood. Upon acquiring the signed warrant, two vials of Johnston’s blood were drawn – thirty (30) minutes apart – and sent to the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime lab for testing. Johnston’s blood-alcohol content was determined to be in excess of 0.20% (0.08% is the level of presumed intoxication in Missouri).

“I want to give special recognition and thanks Officer Smith and paramedic Matthew Aumiller with the Taney County Ambulance District for going the extra-mile to obtain the most-important evidence available to us to prove this case: the defendant’s blood,” said Taney County Prosecutor Jeff Merrell. “It takes extra time and effort to get the search warrant, but the blood draw provides us with the evidence necessary to get drunk drivers to plead guilty – which is a huge savings to taxpayers.”

Driving while intoxicated, as a first offense, is normally a class B misdemeanor, and handled by the Associate Circuit Courts. However, because Johnston had four or more intoxication-related traffic offenses, he was charged with a class B felony for being a “chronic” D.W.I. offender. The range of punishment for a class B felony is not less than five (5) years in prison and not more than fifteen (15) years in prison. However, Johnston was charged as a prior and persistent felony offender, enhancing his possible maximum prison sentence to thirty (30) years. Johnston was sentenced to eight (8) years for driving while intoxicated, and four (4) years for a driving with a revoked license charge. Those sentences were ordered by the court to be concurrent.