Aspen-area man with two DUIs in a month to face felonies | AspenTimes.com

Aspen-area man with two DUIs in a month to face felonies

A local man who was pulled over and charged with DUI twice this fall has five prior drunken-driving convictions on his record and will be prosecuted for felonies in Pitkin County District Court in both cases, according to court records.

Thomas Sanders, 36, was first pulled over Sept. 19 by a Pitkin County sheriff's deputy and charged with DUI, according to court records.

Then on Oct. 21, another sheriff's deputy nearly slammed into the back of his pickup truck on Highway 133 about 2:30 a.m. after coming around a curve and encountering him "driving at an extremely slow rate of speed," according to a Sheriff's Office report. Sanders pulled over so he was half off the road, half on it, the report states.

"I … pulled up next to the driver and motioned for him to roll down his window," Deputy Monique Merritt wrote in the report. "The driver looked at me for a few seconds and then began driving down the road again at a slow rate of speed (28 mph in a 50 mph zone)."

When Sanders pulled over again and opened his door, Merritt immediately smelled alcohol, the report states. She also spotted another unusual detail at that time.

"I noticed the driver had no shoes, shirt or pants on, only boxers," according to the deputy's report, which noted that it was 33 degrees outside at the time.

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When asked how much he'd been drinking, he said, "You know, some," the report states.

The deputy ran Sanders' driver's license through records, then returned to Sanders' vehicle to find a much stronger odor of alcohol. He told her at the time he'd been pouring out alcohol so he wouldn't drink it.

Sanders declined to take an alcohol breath test, but maintained he could pass roadside sobriety tests, the report states.

"I told him if he wanted to perform roadsides barefoot in boxers in the cold it was up to him," Merritt wrote in her report.

But before that could happen, Merritt decided to arrest him. Sanders then asked if he could put some clothes on, which the deputy allowed.

"Sanders pulled a sweatshirt and pants from the back and put them on," the report states. "Sanders then quickly grabbed a '40' of malt liquor … and began chugging it.

"I yelled, 'Hey,' grabbed the bottle out of Sanders' hands and threw it across the road."

Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely set Sanders' bond in the October case at $10,000 cash-only. On Monday, Sanders' attorney asked District Judge Chris Seldin to lower that to a personal recognizance bond.

Molly Owens, a public defender, said Sanders has a job pending at a local on-mountain restaurant and employee housing if he could get out of jail.

Prosecutor Sarah Oszczakiewicz, who said Sanders had only been in the area for less than six months, objected to that request and noted that he has multiple prior convictions in North Dakota, Arkansas, Oregon and Colorado. Court records indicate he was convicted of five drunken driving–related charges in Dickinson, North Dakota.

A person can be charged in Colorado with felony DUI after three prior DUI convictions.

Seldin declined to reduce his bond.

jauslander@aspentimes.com

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