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City of Billings v. Barth

Supreme Court of Montana

March 14, 2017

CITY OF BILLINGS, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
DANIEL BARTH, Defendant and Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: February 8, 2017

         APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Thirteenth Judicial District, In and For the County of Yellowstone, Cause No. DC 15-1013 Honorable Russell C. Fagg, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: Chad Wright, Chief Appellate Defender, Moses Okeyo, Assistant Appellate Defender, Helena, Montana

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Madison L. Mattioli, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana Teague J. Westrope, Billings Deputy City Attorney, Billings, Montana

          OPINION

          JAMES JEREMIAH SHEA, JUSTICE

         ¶1 Defendant Daniel Barth appeals the order and decision of the Thirteenth Judicial District Court, Yellowstone County, affirming alcohol-related conditions included in Barth's sentence by the City of Billings Municipal Court. We address the following issue:

         Whether the Municipal Court erred in imposing alcohol-related conditions on the defendant's sentence.

         ¶2 We affirm.

         PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         ¶3 On January 29, 2015, Daniel Barth ran a stop sign while driving a Chevrolet Avalanche and collided with a Dodge Caravan at an intersection in Billings, Montana. Barth was identified as the driver of the Avalanche by a license plate recovered at the scene and by the testimony of an eyewitness who picked him out of a photo lineup. The occupants of the Caravan, a young mother and her eight-month-old child, suffered several serious injuries, requiring medical treatment. Instead of remaining at the scene to check on the well-being of the victims and to alert authorities of the accident, Barth fled. The next day, Barth called police to report that his Avalanche had been stolen the night before.

         ¶4 Barth was charged with: (1) negligent endangerment in violation of § 45-5-208, MCA; (2) leaving the scene of an injury accident in violation of § 61-7-103, MCA; and (3) failing to give notice of an accident in violation of § 61-7-108, MCA. On September 4, 2015, a jury found Barth guilty of all charges. At the sentencing hearing, the City introduced evidence of Barth's criminal record, including seven convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), and other traffic violations. Barth's most recent alcohol-related conviction was a DUI in 2007. The City contended that it was impossible to tell if alcohol was a factor in Barth's accident in this case because he fled the scene.

         ¶5 Citing concerns about Barth's history with alcohol, the Municipal Court included six conditions to Barth's suspended sentence for negligent endangerment, four of which pertained to alcohol use:

3. Defendant shall be subject to random urinalysis and breath testing;
4. Defendant shall not enter any place where alcohol is the primary item of sale ...

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