Ninth DUI earns driver three-year prison sentence |

Ninth DUI earns driver three-year prison sentence

A Missouri man with at least nine DUI convictions will spend at least three years in Colorado state prison rethinking his life choices.

Patrick O’Brien, 47, has nine DUI convictions since 1990, four from Eagle County dating back to 2000 and five from Missouri, some as recent at 2011.

He was driving drunk and his driver’s license had been revoked when he was caught by Eagle County sheriff’s deputies, according to court documents.

At his sentencing hearing earlier this month, O’Brien apologized to the community for his actions.

However, District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman appeared largely unimpressed and sentenced O’Brien to three years in state prison.


“It’s a brutal case when all the attorneys in the room are struggling with what to do,” Dunkelman said.

Prosecutor Joe Kirwan and defense attorney Terry O’Connor had never seen anything quite like it, Dunkelman said.

“I’m sure you’ve been lectured by a million judges. Your life did not have to be this way,” Dunkelman told him as he handed down the sentence.

Looking back and forth between O’Brien and the man’s criminal file in front of him, Dunkelman called the file “shocking.”

“I’m trying to keep in mind the potential you have,” Dunkelman said.


O’Brien was sentenced in Colorado as a chronic offender. When he’s done in Colorado, Missouri would like to have a word with him. Missouri asked on Sept. 26 that he be extradited to the Show Me State to explain himself. He faces up to 10 years in Missouri for the same thing.

He was already on probation in Missouri for repeated DUIs when he was arrested in Eagle County for driving drunk and with a revoked drivers license.

O’Brien had asked to be placed in a problem-solving court for drug and alcohol offenders, run by Eagle County Court Judge Katharine Sullivan. Dunkelman thought not.

“I just don’t see the DUI court ever being an option. I’m torn, but the appropriate thing is the Department of Corrections,” Dunkelman said. “At some point in the future, community corrections might become an option.”

Dunkelman declined to give O’Brien a few days before turning himself in, time he requested to get his affairs in order. Dunkelman cited public safety and said O’Brien would probably drink.

He sent O’Brien to jail directly from the courtroom.

“You have a lot of potential, but right now you have to deal with this and part of that is dealing with the punishment,” Dunkelman said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

Support Local Journalism