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West Salem man faces felony charges after 6th OWI with son in vehicle

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A West Salem man is facing two felony charges after his sixth offense of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence.

Mathew R. Howard, 52, faces two charges of an OWI and operating with a prohibited alcohol concentration with a minor in the vehicle. Howard was issued a signature bond at his initial appearance on Monday with the condition of no alcohol.

According to the criminal complaint, Howard was pulled over shortly after 9 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 12 in the village of West Salem for a registration suspension.

The officer conducting the traffic stop observed open beer cans in the back of the vehicle, a red Honda, and noticed physical symptoms indicating Howard had been drinking. Howard's 8-year-old son was in the passenger seat of his car, the complaint also states.

At the time, Howard admitted to drinking 4-5 beers, but later said he had about eight while watching a sporting event at a friends house.

Howard underwent a series of sobriety tests, and a preliminary breathalyzer test showed he had a .116 blood alcohol content, higher than a restriction on Howard's license of .02.

After the tests Howard was placed under arrest, and the son was picked up by his mother. At the time of the arrest, Howard told police it was a "poor decision" and stated that he was a veteran and was going to use the opportunity to become sober.

Howard's last OWI was in 2001, according to the complaint, and he faces the possibility of not less than 3 years and no more than 20 year in confinement and having his license revoked for up to 72 months. Officials stated he has no other criminal offenses.

"I'm still trying to figure it out," Howard told Judge Elliot Levine on Monday. "I haven't had a DUI in 20 years."

"It doesn't matter if you've had them 20 years ago, it reaches back in the state of Wisconsin your entire lifetime," Levine said. He said, "obviously these are serious felonies."

Howard's next court appearance was scheduled for Nov. 29.

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