CR man’s appeal of 2018 plea deal for OWI charge rejected by court

CR man’s appeal of 2018 plea deal for OWI charge rejected by court
KCJJ Staff
01/10/19

A Cedar Rapids man’s appeal of his plea deal on a 3rd Offense Operating While Under the Influence charge has been rejected by the Iowa Court of Appeals.

The court on Wednesday ruled in favor of the State of Iowa after Douglas Smith, 53, argued he had received ineffective counsel in the case.

Smith in January 2018 agreed to a plea deal on the OWI, Eluding, Possession of Methamphetamine and Driving While Barred charges, with the latter three charges being dismissed and Smith receiving five years in prison on the OWI charge.

Smith argued there was no factual basis for the guilty plea and his counsel – Sarah Hradek of the Public Defender’s Office – should have advised him of such before he agreed to the plea deal.

Police tried to stop Smith while he was driving on Highway 218 on Nov. 12, 2017, with a short chase ensuing before Smith stopped near the Melrose Avenue exit. While a breath test registered Smith’s blood alcohol concentration at .000, a drug recognition expert determined he was under the influence of a controlled substance and he admitted such during the plea hearing.

Police had also found a syringe with meth in it and a pipe used to smoke the drug in his vehicle.

Smith argued his admission of being under the influence during the plea hearing did not meet the legal requirement to prove impairment. But the court disagreed, saying he did not provide a factual basis for his argument and minutes from his testimony provides the factual basis for the charge.