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Driver with kids in back seat arrested for OWI in Racine County

Posted at 10:16 PM, Sep 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-06 23:16:09-04

RACINE COUNTY — The Racine County Sheriff's Office says it arrested a man for OWI Sunday after a deputy pulled him over for speeding more than 100 miles per hour with kids in the back seat.

Authorities say it happened on I-94 northbound around 11 a.m. Sunday.

The Racine County Sheriff's Office shared body camera footage with TMJ4 News. It shows part of the deputy's interaction with the people inside the car.

“When you passed me at 101, and then I get behind you with my lights and sirens on for a mile, and you’re moving from lane four to lane three, failing to move over or even attempt to slow down, that’s problematic," the deputy can be heard saying in the video.

Authorities say the driver is a 35-year-old man from Eau Claire. A 33-year-old woman, a 17-year-old, a 3-year-old and a 1-year old were in the back seat.

"You’ve got a couple little kids in the car, one of which isn’t wearing a seat belt," the deputy can be heard saying in the video. "How old is the one in the middle?"

"Three," someone in the car can be heard replying.

During the interaction, the Racine County Sheriff's Office says the deputy "could smell a strong odor of intoxicants."

The driver was arrested for third offense OWI, along with several other charges.

Deputies took the driver to the hospital where body camera video shows him saying, "Here’s the deal. I am a severe alcoholic." A little more than a minute later, body camera shows the driver telling deputies, "Last week I was drinking up to five bottles of vodka a day.”

The driver is now in the Racine County Jail.

According to the Racine County Sheriff's Office, this was one of six OWI arrests in the county since Friday. It says one was a factor in a crash with minor injuries. Last Wednesday, Sheriff's Office announced on Facebook it had made its 350th OWI arrest of the year.

"The Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone to enjoy the time with your friends and family in a safe and responsible manner," the Sheriff's Office stated in a news release.

"As a parent with children of my own, I find it very disturbing," said Racine County Sheriff's Sergeant James Spranger. "That interstate, I use it as well, one slight mistake by an individual that's impaired, it could be tragic."

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, someone is hurt or killed in an alcohol-related crash every three hours. In 2020, there were more than 6,000 alcohol-related crashes, and 167 people died. Additionally, more than 2,200 drug-related crashes killed 80 people in 2020.

"Thankfully we got him off the road way before something like that did occur," Sgt. Spranger said.

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