Clerical error blamed for arrest of Springs’ Superintendent WitteThe superintendent of the Wessington Springs School District received a suspended imposition of sentence Tuesday in Mitchell for driving with a revoked license, in what appeared to be a case of clerical confusion.
By: Austin Kaus, The Daily Republic
The superintendent of the Wessington Springs School District received a suspended imposition of sentence Tuesday in Mitchell for driving with a revoked license, in what appeared to be a case of clerical confusion.
The granting of a suspended imposition of sentence means that the misdemeanor conviction will be removed from Lance Witte’s record provided he remains a law-abiding citizen for 60 days and pays his $500 fine before 5 p.m. Friday.
It also saves Witte from having his school administrator’s license suspended for one year, something that would have been automatically triggered if Witte had not been granted a suspended imposition.
Witte, 42, appeared in a Mitchell courtroom to plead guilty to and receive sentence for a Dec. 10, 2010, charge of driving with a revoked licensed.
Witte’s driver’s license was originally revoked for 30 days on Nov. 23 after he pleaded guilty to first-offense driving under the influence. He was sentenced to a suspended 30-day jail sentence and 90 days of probation. He was also ordered by Circuit Judge Jon Erickson to complete an alcohol evaluation, attend DUI seminars and not drink alcohol for 30 days. At that time, Erickson allowed Witte to obtain a work permit for driving.
Witte was then arrested on Dec. 10 in Jerauld County after being stopped for speeding near Alpena. Tuesday, Jerauld County State’s Attorney Casey Bridgeman said it was later revealed that no work permit had ever been issued to Witte.
Tuesday, Witte’s attorney, Doug Dailey, of Mitchell, said Witte was informed by his previous attorney, Doug Kludt, of Huron, about what information needed to be submitted to the clerk of courts in order to obtain the restricted driver’s permit.
Although Witte submitted all information advised by Kludt, Dailey said, Witte did not include information on his hours of employment.
As a result, the clerk’s office “did not issue the restricted permit because they didn’t have all the information,” Dailey said.
“However, there was no relay of the necessity of that and, as such, Mr. Witte drove with the assumption that he was permitted to drive,” Dailey said.
Dailey said Witte was driving for work purposes at the time he was cited for driving without a license.
Bridgeman agreed with Dailey’s recommendation of a suspended imposition of sentence because of the circumstances of the case.
Judge David Gienapp, of Brookings, presided over the hearing through an interactive television system.
Gienapp took over the case from Erickson, who was automatically recused because Dailey and Erickson’s wife, Patricia, are both employed at Morgan Theeler LLP in Mitchell.
Since his December arrest, Witte has maintained that he was surprised by the citation and believed he had submitted all correct paperwork for the work permit.
“I had no intention of breaking the law,” Witte said Tuesday. “It was just a miscommunication on the part of some people.”