Monday, August 08, 2022

Family intervention ends in arrest, felony charges

Daily Inter Lake | August 3, 2022 12:00 AM

A Flathead Valley man who allegedly reacted angrily to an impromptu intervention regarding his alcohol use late last month is now in county jail.

Donald Douglas Houtonen, 35, faces felony charges of driving under the influence, fourth or subsequent offense, and strangulation of a partner or family member following his July 29 arrest. Prosecutors also filed a misdemeanor charge of partner or family member assault against him.

Houtonen is being held on a $75,000 bond.

Authorities began searching for Houtonen after relatives made an ill-fated attempt at an intervention, court documents said. Kalispell Police officers arriving at a Meadow Vista Loop home met a relation of Houtonen suffering from what looked like “fresh injuries to his head.”

The wounded man said Houtonen had arrived earlier, appearing drunk. Worried that Houtonen had a drinking problem, the man and another relative confronted him. Houtonen “became very angry,” the man told police.

“What are you going to do about it,” Houtonen allegedly said before grappling with his relatives.

According to court documents, Houtonen got the injured man in a headlock and began choking him. The other relative tried to pull him off, but allegedly got tossed to the ground.

A minor who witnessed the fight described watching as Houtonen “beat up” the two adults, court documents said. Houtonen allegedly fled before police arrived.

Officers caught up with Houtonen about an hour later, spotting him driving down First Avenue West in Kalispell. Smelling the odor of alcohol on his breath, officers asked him to submit to field sobriety tests. Houtonen, who had admitted drinking alcohol prior to driving, showed signs of impairment, court documents said.

When officers tried reading the implied consent advisory, Houtonen allegedly interrupted.

“Let’s go to prison,” he said, refusing a breath test, according to court documents.

Authorities said they found three prior driving under the influence convictions on his record as well as one prior conviction for partner or family member assault.

If convicted, Houtonen could spend up to five years behind bars and pay a fine of $50,000 for the strangulation charge. The misdemeanor assault charge carries a maximum sentence of between 72 hours and a year in county jail, counseling requirements and a fine of between $300 and $1,000.

Driving under the influence, fourth or subsequent offense, carries a penalty of between 13 months and two years with the state Department of Corrections for placement in either a correctional facility or residential treatment program. It also comes with a consecutive suspended sentence of five years and a fine of between $5,000 and $10,000.

News Editor Derrick Perkins can be reached at 758-4430 or

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