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Creative Oneida County Drunk-Driving Defense Won’t Be Heard By Supreme Court

State of Wisconsin

The Oneida County drunk-driving conviction of a man with a creative defense argument will stand.

On Friday, the State Supreme Court refused to take up the appeal of 48-year-old Jude Giles, who lives in Merrill.

Giles admitted to having six to eight shots of vodka just before rear-ending a vehicle in Woodruff in 2016.

At a hospital, his blood showed an alcohol concentration of .14, well above the legal limit.

But Giles hoped to argue the alcohol hadn’t been absorbed into his system when he crashed, so he wasn’t driving drunk.

Immediately after the crash, Giles failed two of three field sobriety tests.

But a preliminary breath test showed an alcohol concentration of .076, just below the legal limit.

Giles planned to have an expert use that information to argue he was “likely in the alcohol absorption phase” and should be found not guilty.

However, Oneida County Judge Patrick O’Melia blocked that piece of evidence.

A jury found Giles guilty of two criminal counts, and O’Melia imposed a sentence including jail time and license revocation.

Last October, an appeals court agreed with O’Melia’s decision, and on Friday, the State Supreme Court announced it wouldn’t take up the case, meaning the conviction will stand.

Ben worked as the Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR from September 2019 until November 2021. He now contributes occasionally to WXPR. During his full-time employment, his main focus was reporting on environment and natural resources issues in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula as part of The Stream, a weekly series.
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