Monte Melvin, a prominent South Dakota rancher, horseman and a former rodeo cowboy, pleaded guilty this week in Pierre to a third offense drunk driving charge that could put him behind bars.
Melvin, 64, told state Judge John Brown that he has a ranch near Hermosa in the Black Hills and also one near Pierre to which he regularly commutes.
He was arrested June 7 in Pierre on suspicion of drunk driving.
Judge Brown told Melvin it normally would be a misdemeanor charge.
But because Melvin was convicted of two previous DUI offenses in recent years — in September 2010, and in Custer County in April 2012 — Hughes County State’s Attorney Wendy Kloeppner charged him with being a habitual offender. That would make his sentence for the June charge equivalent to a Class 6 felony with a maximum sentence of two years in prison.
Melvin is known as a horse breeder, a former bullrider and rodeo leader in the state.
He was the first bull riding champion and All-Around cowboy champ in the PRCA’s Badlands Circuit as well as the first president of the circuit, according to news reports.