A drunken driver who pleaded guilty May 25 to his 13th offense started a sentence this week that will keep him behind bars for at least 28 months.
James Richard Schmidt, 44, was arrested Feb. 2 when a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper noticed his vehicle was weaving. A test revealed that Schmidt had a .28 blood-alcohol level, nearly three times the legal limit.
Because this was Schmidt's third felony drunken driving conviction, he wasn't charged as a habitual criminal. The penalty for such a classification - applicable the fourth time - could have added five to 20 years to his sentence. The maximum he could serve now is six years.
By all accounts, Schmidt should have been imprisoned for habitual drunken driving offenses when he was convicted twice in Oregon in 1999. Both of those offenses were mistakenly charged as misdemeanors.
In Nevada, Schmidt has been arrested in April 1989 in Reno, January 1990 in Sparks, September 1991 in Reno, and February 1996 in Carson City, in addition to the latest charge.
When Smith was released from the Carson City Jail on bail, he was rearrested later that day, charged with violating his release by drinking.
In Nevada, prison time is mandatory on the third conviction in seven years.