Fourth District Judge Pat Owen told Terry Lee Ash, 55, that if her ever does get out of prison, he will be on felony probation for the rest of his life.
It is almost miraculous, Mr. Ash, you have not managed to kill somebody or yourself, Owen said Wednesday. You have been driving impaired your entire adult life. My concern is about protecting the public. This is a sad, sad case.
An Ada County jury found Ash guilty of his 14th DUI earlier this summer and also found him to be a persistent violator of the law, which allowed Owen to hand down the life sentence.
Ash told Owen that he had been sober for up to six years before his latest DUI arrest, which came on Sept. 4, 2011. He said he drank again during a camping trip because of some emotional issues.
Ash told Owen that he thought he drank responsibly that day, but also admitted that he has a problem with alcohol.
Ada County sheriffs deputies arrested Ash after he wrecked his car on Swan Falls Road near Kuna. Prosecutors said Ashs blood alcohol content was .13 four hours after the crash occurred. The legal limit is .08.
I agree I still have issues to deal with, but I dont agree I am totally hopeless, Ash said in court. I dont believe I would put myself in that position again.
Ashs attorney said Wednesday that his client began drinking when he was 6 years old and has never been seriously treated for mental health issues, including depression, during all his encounters with the legal system.
Prosecutors say Ash has never taken responsibility for his drunken driving and told Owen that incarceration and treatment dont seem to have any impact on Ashs decision making. Prosecutors suggested the life sentence.
Ash has DUI convictions in Ada, Canyon and Nez Perce counties, according to Idaho Court records. His 13th conviction came in Nez Perce County, and Ash was in prison from December 2005 until his release in October 2010, according to Idaho Department of Correction reports.
Owen pointed out that Ash has 35 misdemeanor convictions and has been arrested on 11 felony charges, including several of the DUIs. Owen also said that much of the time Ash was sober over the past two decades was when he was in prison, and pointed out that Ash was out for less than a year when he was arrested on the 14th DUI charge.
Owen said he had no choice but to give Ash a lengthy prison sentence because of his insistence on drinking and driving.
I am concerned in your case, sir, you are a menace to the community, Owen said. You are not here because you are an alcoholic. You are here because you have a lifetime habit of driving impaired.
Patrick Orr: 377-6219, Twitter: @IDS_Orr