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Roberts man pleads to 10th OWI

Shawn Harstad

HUDSON — One day before his trial was to begin, a Roberts man pleaded guilty in St. Croix County Circuit Court to his 10th drunken-driving offense.

Shawn A. Harstad entered the plea Tuesday, May 8, at a hearing where he also pleaded guilty to obstructing an officer during the Feb. 4, 2017, incident.

The OWI-10th offense charge carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of four years, though St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Edward Vlack could sentence Harstad to the maximum penalty — more than 12 years in prison.

The case is one of two felony-level open drunken driving cases against Harstad. He was convicted by a jury in November of OWI-ninth, along with two other felonies — bail jumping and operating with a prohibited blood-alcohol concentration — in that case, which stemmed from a March 12, 2017, incident.

Both of his felony OWIs were initially charged as ninth offenses; it wasn't until Harstad was convicted at trial that the February 2017 case was amended to become his 10th charge. Harstad was out on a $2,500 cash bond at the time of the March 2017 arrest.

Sentencings in both cases are set for 10 a.m. July 17. Before accepting his plea, Vlack warned Harstad that he could receive consecutive sentences — a possibility the 48-year-old said he was willing to accept. If he receives the maximum amount on all three felony charges, Harstad faces more than 33 years.

St. Croix County Assistant District Attorney Alexis McKinley didn't specify what her recommendation will be, but said it involves "a substantial amount of incarceration."

Harstad asked Vlack at the hearing if he would be subject to a recent law passed by lawmakers that permanently revoked driving privileges upon drivers' fourth OWI convictions. District Attorney Michael Nieskes told the court the law doesn't go into effect until Jan. 1, 2019.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is a regional/enterprise reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage includes St. Croix County government, higher education and state politics in Wisconsin. 

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