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Appellate court upholds 5-year sentence for man driving boat drunk

Posted: April 14, 2013 - 12:08am

The Alaska Court of Appeals Friday upheld a five-year sentence for a Juneau man convicted of refusing to submit to a chemical test in 2012.

Judge Marjorie K. Allard wrote in a memorandum opinion and judgment (MOJ) that the sentence was not excessive as defendant Curtis E. Anderson argued in his appeal.

“Based on our independent review of the record, we conclude that Anderson’s 5 year sentence is not clearly mistaken,” the memo stated.

Anderson was arrested for operating a boat under the influence of alcohol in August 2011 with two passengers aboard. He told police he only drank one beer three hours earlier and refused to provide a sample of his breath at the police state. Police then obtained a search warrant for his blood, and his blood alcohol level was found to be .181 grams per 100 milliliters of blood, more than twice the legal limit, according to the court’s review of the facts.

A couple months later, Anderson entered into a plea agreement — he pleaded guilty to felony refusal to submit to a chemical test, and in exchange, prosecutors agreed to dismiss the felony driving while under the influence charge. The parties did not agree on what sentence Anderson should serve.

Juneau Superior Court Judge Louis Menendez at sentencing imposed the maximum five-year sentence given Anderson’s criminal history, which included more than 50 convictions and at least five prior convictions for driving while under the influence in Alaska and Washington and a prior conviction for felony refusal. Anderson had been ordered to address his alcohol problems a total of 22 times.

Since Anderson had a prior felony conviction, he was presumptive to serve two to four years, but Menendez found sentencing aggravators that allowed him to impose a sentence above the four-year range.

The decision reads in part, “In order to impose a maximum sentence for a particular crime, a sentencing judge must find that a defendant is a worst offender based on the defendant’s background or the circumstances of the offense, or both. Anderson argues that the circumstances of his current offense do not support a worst offender finding because there was no showing that he refused to submit to the breath test in a particularly belligerent manner, or that his driving of the boat was particularly erratic or dangerous. But Judge Menendez’s finding of worst offender was based primarily on Anderson’s extensive criminal history and repeated failed rehabilitation attempts, not on his current offense.”

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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