Robbie Knievel, the youngest son of the late daredevil Evel Knievel, was charged Wednesday with felony drunken driving and criminal endangerment after allegedly causing a four-car pile-up in Butte the previous night.
Knievel, 52, made an initial appearance before Judge Ben Pezdark in justice court at the Butte-Silver Bow Detention Center early Wednesday afternoon. In lieu of bond being set, he agreed to either come to the jail each morning and evening and submit to alcohol screening or wear a bracelet that detects alcohol.
The DUI is a felony because Knievel has three previous drunken driving convictions. The felony criminal endangerment charge stems from Knievel allegedly running a red light at the intersection of Dewey Boulevard and Harrison Avenue at 7:31 p.m. Tuesday and causing an accident that created substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to another.
Police said none of those others involved in the wreck appeared to suffer injuries.
Knievel also was charged with three misdemeanors –- leaving the scene of an accident, operating a motor vehicle without an interlock device, and running a red light.
The drunken driving charge carries a maximum five-year sentence and $50,000 fine, and the criminal endangerment charge carries a maximum 10-year sentence and $50,000 fine.
The three misdemeanors carry possible six-month jail sentences and fines ranging from $200 to $500.
According to Butte police, Knievel was driving a 2005 GMC Yukon at a high speed heading south on Harrison Avenue. Witnesses told police he rear-ended a Honda Accord, it hit a Ford Taurus, and the Ford struck a Hummer.
Knievel fled the scene in the GMC, and it was located shortly afterwards parked on Sanders Street two blocks away. Police then saw Knievel walking on Busch Street, a block from the accident scene, and stopped him.
He had a bloody lip and police smelled alcohol on his breath. He admitted he had been driving, police said.
He refused to take a Breathalyzer and could not take some of the field-sobriety tests because of his bloody lip, police said, so they got a search warrant and had a blood sample taken at St. James Healthcare.
Knievel was cited for felony DUI and was booked into the jail.
The Honda Accord and Ford Taurus had to be towed from the scene, but the Hummer was able to drive off.
Undersheriff George Skuletich said Knievel has been in Butte the last couple of weeks, but he did not know why. He has family in Butte.
He appeared in an orange jail jumpsuit for his initial appearance and said he understood his rights and the charges. Police said his address is in Sequim, Washington, but the GMC he was driving Tuesday night was registered to a Butte man.
When Pezdark asked Knievel to state his address, he paused for several seconds and said it was on his driver’s license.
Knievel pleaded guilty to DUI in South Dakota in August 2013. He had been arrested in Lawrence County after the vehicle he was driving crashed into two motor homes while he was leaving the Buffalo Chip Campground.
His preliminary blood-alcohol breath test that night measured 0.228 — almost three times the legal limit.
He received a suspended jail sentence and paid nearly $600 in fines, and his driver’s license was suspended for 30 days.
During his appearance Wednesday, he told a Judge Pezdark that two of his previous DUI’s were taken off in South Dakota, apparently referring to his DUI case there. The judge said he would have to talk to his attorney about that.
Knievel was asked if he would have a private attorney or wanted a public defender, and he said the latter initially.
Knievel called into “TMZ Live” radio talk show after his 2013 arrest and admitted he was drunk that day, saying “I’m a frickin’ drinking, driving daredevil.”
“I ride motorcycles and I friggn’ drink and ride … that’s my deal,” he said.
He said he had an alcohol problem.