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Local woman sentenced to 5 years probation for 5th DUI

November 27, 2018

BUTTE COUNTY — A Belle Fourche woman charged with her 5th DUI (driving under the influence) offense was sentenced to serve five years intensive probation and successfully complete DUI court.

According to court documents, just before 10 p.m. on Sept. 10, Belle Fourche Police Sgt. Ryan Cherveny received a report of an older red vehicle swerving all over the road with its lights off. Cherveny found and performed a traffic stop on the vehicle being driven by Rheanna Lace Simmons, 27.

According to the officer’s report, Simmons told him that she knew she should not be driving and that she’d been drinking. Simmons reportedly said she was picking up a friend. Dispatch advised Cherveny that Simmons had a revoked driving status.

After exhibiting numerous signs of impairment while performing sobriety tests, Simmons reportedly blew a .175 percent blood alcohol content reading on a preliminary breath test.

She was arrested for DUI 4th offense or more. On Sept. 27, a sample of Simmons’s blood, extracted on the evening of her arrest, was tested at a laboratory and reportedly yielded a .184 percent blood alcohol content.

On Oct. 9, a Butte County grand jury indicted Simmons on one count of DUI, fifth offense or subsequent, a Class 4 felony, punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment in the state penitentiary and a fine of up to $20,000, and one count of driving while license is revoked, a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year imprisonment in the county jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

Butte County State’s Attorney Cassie Wendt submitted a Part II Information filing on Oct. 15 moving to establish that Simmons is a habitual offender due to her Sept. 22, 2010, DUI, first offense, conviction in Pennington County; her Jan. 31, 2013, DUI, second offense, conviction in Pennington County; her March 11, 2014, DUI, third offense, conviction in Lawrence County; and her April 26, 2017, DUI, fourth offense, conviction in Lawrence County.

According to South Dakota Codified Law, “if a defendant has been convicted of one or two prior felonies, in addition to the principal felony, the sentence for the principal felony shall be enhanced by changing the class of the principal felony to the next class which is more severe …”

In Simmons’s case, for sentencing purposes, the DUI, fifth offense, charge could have been enhanced from a Class 4 felony to a Class 3 felonies, punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment in the state penitentiary and a fine of up to $30,000.

Although she initially pleaded not guilty at her Oct. 3 arraignment, Simmons pleaded guilty to DUI, fifth offense, at her Nov. 8 change of plea hearing. Immediately following the change of plea, Simmons was sentenced by 4th Circuit Court Judge Michael Day.

In addition to five years on intensive probation, Day ordered Simmons to successfully complete the Northern Hills DUI Court program; serve five years in the state penitentiary with five suspended; pay $741.45 worth of court-appointed attorney’s fees and $241.50 in court costs and fines; and pay the Butte County Auditor for her costs of incarceration in the Meade County Jail, where all Butte County prisoners are held.

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