First District Judge Craig C. Kosonen pleaded guilty to drunken driving Wednesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after he crashed his pickup into a concrete barrier south of the city limits.
Magistrate Barry Watson granted Kosonen’s request for a withheld judgment and sentenced the 61-year-old judge to two days in jail, which he can choose to serve in the sheriff’s community work program. Kosonen also was fined $500 and his driver’s license was suspended for 90 days.
All are within the standard sentencing range for first-time offenders.
Kootenai County Prosecutor Bill Douglas said Kosonen did not ask for or receive special treatment. His guilty plea was not made as part of a plea agreement.
“You’ve got to have some measure of respect for someone who comes in right away and admits his guilt and asks for no special treatment,” Douglas said.
Kosonen’s blood-alcohol level was nearly double the legal limit when he lost control of his red 1997 Dodge pickup about 9:25 p.m. on Potlatch Hill Road near Coeur d’Alene Lake Road, according to a Kootenai County sheriff’s report. Kosonen, who was alone in the truck, refused medical treatment.
Under terms of a withheld judgment, Kosonen’s case will be dismissed in two years if he complies with the terms of his sentence and stays out of trouble. He has seven days to sign up for the sheriff’s work program and until Jan. 30 to complete his jail sentence.
Messages left at Kosonen’s office in Wallace and his home Wednesday were not returned.
Kosonen told deputies he was driving south on Potlatch Hill Road about 30 mph when the road, with which he was unfamiliar, curved sharply. The truck began to skid when he hit the brakes, and slammed through the cement barriers on the side of the road, a sheriff’s report said.
A deputy who investigated the one-car accident said Kosonen’s breath smelled of alcohol, his eyes were red and glossy and he slurred some of his words. The judge admitted drinking three glasses of brandy over dinner between 5 and 8 p.m., according to deputy Mark Gregory’s report.
The judge swayed back and forth when he stood with his head tilted back, slurred some numbers and letters when asked to count backwards and recite the alphabet, and had trouble balancing, the report said.
When deputies asked Kosonen if he felt impaired, he said “I’m not perfect, I’ll give you that,” according to Gregory’s report.
Two Breathalyzer tests taken at the county Public Safety Building indicated Kosonen’s blood-alcohol level at .14 and .15, the report said. Idaho’s legal limit is .08.
Deputies released Kosonen after citing him for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Kosonen has served as a district judge in Wallace since 1990.