East Helena Man Accused of Driving With .436% Alcohol Level

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Authorities say a 38-year-old East Helena man accused of driving drunk had a blood alcohol level of 0.436 percent — more than five times the legal limit for driving and a level that could be deadly.

The Montana Highway Patrol says Philip Pietz was arrested Wednesday in East Helena after he drove his truck through several yards, hit a tree and smashed through a few fences before getting stuck on a rock.

Pietz appeared in Justice Court on Wednesday and tried to plead guilty to misdemeanor first offense DUI, but Justice of the Peace Mike Swingley was concerned the man might still be intoxicated and opted for him to plead not guilty. Swingley, who was a state trooper for 22 years, says it is the highest blood alcohol level he has ever seen.

Lewis and Clark County Coroner Mickey Nelson told the Independent Record a level of 0.30 percent is potentially deadly.

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