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Eight-time drunk-driver
gets 15 years in slammer

An eight-time drunk driver has been sentenced to 15 years in prison, the maximum in Missouri for driving while intoxicated.

Ricky E. Stroble, 51, of Kansas City, Kansas, received the sentence in Platte County Circuit Court on Thursday after pleading guilty in March 2011 to driving while intoxicated.

Stroble fled Platte County after pleading guilty and was later caught driving drunk in Johnson County, Kansas. Despite Stroble’s lengthy criminal history, he was only eligible to be charged with a misdemeanor under Kansas law and served 90 days in jail.

Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said, “Fortunately, the changes we made to the law in Missouri a few years ago allow us to lock away chronic drunk drivers for lengthy terms. But not too long ago, Missouri was similar to Kansas, where any drunk driver, no matter how many prior offenses, faced only a brief incarceration.”

Judge Abe Shafer handed down the sentence to Stroble after observing that recent changes to Missouri law permitted the lengthy incarceration. Shafer noted that, by his count, the Platte County offense was Stroble’s seventh DWI and seventh felony offense overall.

Stroble was stopped for speeding on I-635 by a Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper on June 20, 2010 at 8:52 a.m. Stroble smelled like alcohol, and the trooper administered standardized field sobriety tests. Stroble was arrested, and his blood alcohol content was determined to be 0.146%.

After pleading guilty in March 2011, Stroble failed to appear for his sentencing hearing. On February 19, 2012, he was arrested for driving while intoxicated in Johnson County, Kansas, where he was later convicted.

Kansas law caps DWI sentences to one year imprisonment. Zahnd pushed for legislation in Missouri in 2010 that increased the maximum punishment for any person with four prior convictions to 15 years in prison. Any person with two prior DWI convictions can be charged with a felony in Missouri.

Zahnd said, “Drunk driving is one of the most dangerous crimes a person can commit. Missouri law now accounts for that in our sentencing laws, and it’s good to know people like this defendant face real time behind bars when they repeatedly endanger other drivers on our roads.”

The case was investigated by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Zahnd personally handled the sentencing hearing.