An El Dorado man already serving a prison sentence was sentenced to five years in prison and 10 years suspended imposition of sentence on Tuesday after pleading guilty to his sixth DWI offense.
Gary Alan Ward, 62, was arrested for driving while intoxicated on Feb. 23, 2022, while on conditional release from the Union County Detention Facility for medical treatment, according to court records.
Ward was sentenced in November 2021 to five years in prison and ten years suspended imposition of sentence after pleading guilty to his fifth DWI conviction.
According to court records, a petition of release for Ward was granted in December 2021. At the time, records state, Ward was incarcerated at the Union County Criminal Detention Facility while "awaiting the availability of a bed in the Department of Corrections." He was released from the Union County jail to "facilitate medical treatment" under conditions including abstaining from intoxicating substances, among several others.
Ward is currently incarcerated in the ADC, according to inmate records.
Ward's 2022 arrest occurred when a law enforcement officer working security at the Medical Center of South Arkansas observed him attempting, with help from a tow truck he allegedly called, to pull his vehicle out from where it was stuck in a "grassy area" between two parking lots.
The officer approached Ward and reportedly "could smell an odor of intoxicants about [him]" despite maintaining distance. El Dorado Police Department officers arrived and observed signs of intoxication including slurred speech, an odor of intoxicants and difficulty standing.
Ward was transported to the El Dorado Police Department for field sobriety testing "due to the weather at the time" and was tested there including on the BAC machine, which according to court records showed a blood alcohol content of .156. In Arkansas, a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or greater is considered intoxicated.
The conditional release from the Union County jail was revoked on March 18, 2022 and, in January 2023, Ward pleaded true to allegations in a petition to revoke suspended imposition of sentence related to the Feb. 23, 2022 DWI arrest.
Ward was at that time sentenced to an additional five years in prison and ten years suspended imposition of sentence to run consecutive with time he was already serving.
Tuesday's sentence of five years in the ADC and ten years suspended imposition of sentence will run concurrent - at the same time - with the time Ward is currently serving, according to court records.
Under the terms of a plea deal negotiated by 13th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney's Office deputy prosecuting attorney Carla Gibson and Ward's attorney Gary McDonald, additional charges of driving without an interlock ignition device and a habitual offender enhancement were not prosecuted. Ward pleaded guilty to violation of the omnibus DWI act, sixth or subsequent offense.
Under Arkansas law, driving while intoxicated convictions are considered unclassified misdemeanors until the fourth charge within ten years of the initial offense. The fourth and fifth charges within ten years are each considered unclassified felonies and a sixth charge within 20 years of the first offense is a Class B felony.