Former Madison cop pleads guilty to drunken driving charge

October 2, 2018

A former Madison police officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to a first-offense drunken driving charge after a jury was selected Monday to hear evidence in a one-day trial.

Kelly Hoeft, 42, of Rice Lake, resigned from the department in May, Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said.

Hoeft was charged last year after she was seen going through an intersection on Madison’s Southwest Side and striking some signs. She was an officer at the time, though not on duty and was driving her own vehicle.

First-offense drunken driving is not normally a criminal offense in Wisconsin and instead is similar to a traffic ticket that carries fines. But because Hoeft had a 5-year-old child in her vehicle at the time, she faced a criminal charge that carried higher fines plus a minimum of five days in jail, or up to six months.

Hoeft had taken the case through the selection of a jury, which occurred on Monday, but on Tuesday morning, when testimony was to have begun, she decided to plead guilty to the drunken driving charge.

A second charge, driving with a prohibited alcohol concentration, was dismissed, but Hoeft could not have been convicted of both charges under state law.

A criminal complaint states that on June 1, 2017, a caller reported seeing a dark blue minivan go through the intersection of Raymond Road and McKenna Boulevard, taking out a couple of signs in the median.

Hoeft was stopped by an officer on Dolphin Drive, who noticed that there was a child in her vehicle. Hoeft identified herself with a police identification card and told the officer, “I’ve definitely been drinking,” the complaint states.

A breath test found that Hoeft’s preliminary blood alcohol concentration was 0.27 percent, more than three times the limit for drivers in Wisconsin, according to the complaint.

After her arrest, she took a leave of absence but returned to duty after receiving an occupational driver’s license, until her resignation in May.

Hoeft will be sentenced on Dec. 7 by Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky.

In addition to time in jail, Hoeft faces having her driver’s license revoked for 12 to 18 months and fines between $350 and $1,100.