Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - On September 10, 2023, at approximately 10:06 p.m., a Missoula County Sheriff’s Office deputy was conducting a routine patrol in the area of the Blue Mountain Trailhead. The deputy observed a pickup truck parked in the trailhead parking lot with its lights off.

The trailhead is closed between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. The deputy observed a male sitting in the driver’s seat. The male had his window down and the deputy advised him that he was not supposed to be at the trailhead because it was now closed.  

The male, later identified as 30-year-old Nicholas Paynter, stated that his girlfriend had dropped him off and that they were going camping. The deputy reiterated that the trailhead was closed, and no camping was allowed in the area. The deputy asked Paynter for his driver’s license, but Paynter said he did not have it with him. 

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Suspect gets Caught Lying

The deputy ran Paynter through dispatch and discovered that he was currently on probation, had outstanding warrants, and that his license was suspended or revoked. After confirming the warrants, the deputy asked Paynter to step out of the vehicle.

The deputy told Paynter he could not drive due to the status of his license, and Paynter called his girlfriend to pick him up. The deputy asked Paynter where his keys were, and Paynter stated that his girlfriend had taken them with her.  

Another deputy arrived on the scene and observed four empty beer cans and an empty beer box inside the vehicle. Paynter’s girlfriend arrived on scene and a deputy asked if she had given Paynter a ride to the Blue Mountain Trailhead. She stated she had been at home all night and had not given Paynter a ride. She further denied that she had Paynter’s keys but had brought his spare keys with her now.  

Deputy Begins His DUI Investigation

The deputy contacted the on-call probation officer who asked if Paynter was under the influence. The PO further stated that if Paynter appeared under the influence, the deputy could obtain a breath sample from him. 

The deputy asked Paynter to participate in Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, to which he agreed. According to court documents, Paynter scored six out of six possible clues on the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, three out of eight possible clues on the Walk and Turn Test, and refused to participate in the One Leg Stand test due to claims of back and knee injuries.  

The deputy read Paynter the PAST Advisory and requested a breath sample. Paynter would not blow into the PBT hard enough to get a sample to register. The deputy observed that Paynter was blowing air out of the side of his mouth when providing the sample. No sample was able to be collected despite multiple attempts. The deputy then applied for and was granted a search warrant for Paynter’s blood. Paynter was cooperative with the blood draw, and the results are pending. 

Paynter is currently being charged with felony DUI. According to court documents, Paynter has four prior DUI convictions. On September 11, 2023, Paynter made his initial appearance in Missoula Justice Court and his bond was set at $30,000. 

The information in this article was obtained from sources that are publicly viewable.

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