Caldwell man sentenced for fourth DWI

Habitual DWI conviction lands Jerry Ray Boles a year in prison
Aug. 29, 2013 @ 08:29 AM

Jerry Ray Boles barely got out of his driveway one afternoon two years ago before the incident that resulted in what would become his fourth drunken-driving conviction in five years.

On Wednesday, Boles, 42, was convicted of felony habitual driving while impaired, and sentenced to 12-15 months in prison.

It took a jury of seven men and five women in Caldwell Superior Court less than 25 minutes to return the verdict shortly after noon. Boles' 79-year-old mother, Donna Boles, who uses a cane and wears two hearing aids and sat through five hours of courtroom testimony over two days, dabbed her eyes as a bailiff placed handcuffs on Boles. She approached defense attorney Thomas Whisnant, who forced a smile and told her, "I did the best I could."

About 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 28, 2011, Boles was backing his Dodge pickup truck out of the driveway of his house at 430 Hill St. in Lenoir and backed into a Toyota 4-Runner parked on the side of the road in front of the home of James Shell, who lives at 435  Hill St. The accident was witnessed by Allison Benjamin, Shell's sister, who lives two houses down, where she had a clear view of the accident, and she called Shell.

Benjamin testified that Boles said he would pay Shell cash not to report the accident to police. But Shell reported it.

Lenoir Cpl. Eddie Keefer testified that when he arrived he could smell alcohol on Boles' breath, Boles appeared to be unsteady on his feet, and when asked for a driver's license Boles instead handed Keefer a state identification card. Boles had no license because it had been suspended.

Then-Officer Matt Walker, who currently is a Caldwell County magistrate, testified that Boles told him he had consumed just two beers, but his eyes were glassy, his speech was slurred, and he had to lean on Keefer's patrol car to balance himself. A roadside Breathalyzer test was positive for alcohol, and observing Boles' eyes indicated he was impaired, Walker said.

An Intoxilyzer breath test at the jail showed that Boles' blood-alcohol level at that time was 0.08 percent, the level at which drivers are presumed under North Carolina law to be impaired.

Boles declined to testify at the trial to avoid giving prosecutors a path for introducing his prior DWI convictions into evidence. Boles was convicted of DWI in Caldwell County on Sept. 18, 2008, and April 29, 2010, and in Watauga County on Nov. 29, 2010.

In addition to habitual DWI, Boles was convicted of driving while license revoked and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident or property damage. Two prior felony convictions for forgery and uttering, and larceny by an employee were considered in the sentencing phase.