Fourth conviction in decade for DUI leads to jail time

WAILUKU — A Wailuku man with three prior DUI convictions was taken into custody Aug. 7 to finish serving a 10-day jail term for a fourth DUI conviction within 10 years.

Riedy Helson, 42, was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service as part of four years’ probation.

He had pleaded no contest to habitually driving under the influence of alcohol in connection with his arrest Nov. 2, 2017.

Shortly before 1 a.m. that day, police were sent to Lower Main Street in Wailuku to investigate a report that a man wearing a Walmart uniform brandished a knife and began yelling when he was refused service at a bar, said Deputy Prosecutor Jeffery Temas.

He said a police officer responding to the location saw a blue Ford pickup truck matching the description of the vehicle that the man had fled in. The officer saw the truck cross a double solid line without slowing and run a stop sign before going into oncoming traffic a second time, Temas said.

When the officer activated emergency lights to pull over the truck, Helson was driving.

“He spoke to the officer in slurred words that could not be understood,” Temas said.

He said Helson was wearing a Walmart vest and had box knives on him and in the center console of the truck.

Helson had red eyes and a strong odor of liquor on his breath, Temas said. He said Helson also was described as unsteady on his feet and relied on the officer to keep his balance.

When the officer asked his name, Helson “looked at him blankly” before eventually blurting out his name, Temas said. “And then he said, as he laughed, ‘I’m drunk already,’ ” Temas said.

Deputy Public Defender Zach Raidmae said a plea agreement recommending the minimum sentence for Helson was reached, in part because no blood or breath test was done.

Helson has completed treatment and was attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, Raidmae said.

“He is now pastor of his church,” Raidmae said.

While following the plea agreement to sentence Helson, 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo told him, “Your case is about the good, the bad and the ugly.”

“The ugly being this is your fourth DUI within the last 10 years, which is four times too many,” Loo said.

She said the bad was that his family, including his wife and children, and members of his church were the ones who would suffer most if Helson ended up in prison for what he did.

The judge said the good was that Helson hasn’t had a traffic or criminal charge or arrest in almost two years since his latest DUI arrest.

“So maybe you actually learned your lesson, which is always the court’s hope,” Loo said. “Maybe you truly are sorry for your actions, now that you’ve seen how bad it can be when you drink and drive. You can lose everything that is important to you.

“I hope you will never decide to mix the two together ever again,” Loo said. “If you choose to mix drinking and driving again, you will lose your family, you will lose your church colleagues, your spirituality. And you will lose your freedom.”

His driver’s license was revoked for four years. He was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs as part of his probation.

Court records show Helson had two convictions for DUI in July 2009 and one in December 2007.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@maui news.com.