Driver arrested after passing out on U.S. 20

October 10, 2018

La PORTE – A Portage woman who passed out behind the wheel of her car on U.S. 20, then tried to drive away with an officer hanging on to the side, is facing drunken driving charges.

Just after 1 a.m. Sunday, a La Porte County Sheriff’s deputy conducting a traffic stop on U.S. 20 in Kankakee Township was called to a report of a disabled vehicle with an unresponsive woman in the driver’s seat.

The deputy found a silver Cadillac Escalade EXT in the eastbound lane of U.S. 20, just east of the intersection of CR-200E (Dawn Boulevard), about two miles west of Rolling Prairie. The area is a construction zone, and the vehicle was blocking the only open eastbound lane.

The deputy approached and saw the woman resting her head against the window with her seat belt on, the report said. He knocked on the window and shouted, but she did not respond.

The car was still in Drive with the woman’s foot on the brake, so the deputy opened the unlocked door to put the car into Park. When he did, he noticed the smell of an alcoholic beverage and saw an unresponsive man in the back seat.

Opening the door woke the woman up, and she “depressed the gas pedal, causing the vehicle to accelerate,” the report said. The deputy “jumped on the side step and held onto the driver’s door, shouting to the woman to stop, but the vehicle kept driving.”

After about 50 feet, the deputy was “able to reach into the vehicle and place the transmission into the ‘P’ position, causing a grinding noise from the transmission, but the vehicle stopped.”

The driver was handcuffed and the report said she had “bloodshot watery eyes” and “kept leaning on the vehicle, due to her unsteady balance.”

The man in the back was awakened and found to be intoxicated as well.

The driver, identified as Amber S. Wolfe, 36, told officers they were returning from her boss’ retirement party in Lakeville, Indiana. Asked why they were headed eastbound, she said they were “going the right way” and were “only 10 miles from the ‘Portage exit.’ ”

Told they were going the wrong direction and were much farther from Portage, she told officers to “please let her go” and “let her drive her and her husband home,” the report said.

After both Wolfes refused medical treatment, the driver was given field sobriety tests and failed. A portable breath test showed her blood alcohol level at .157, nearly double the legal limit, according to the report. She was taken to the La Porte Police Department, where her blood alcohol level was measured at .150.

She was charged with misdemeanor counts of operating while intoxicated with endangerment; operating while intoxicated with a level of .15; and operating while intoxicated, police said. She has since been released on bond.

Because he was too intoxicated to drive, her husband was taken to a nearby gas station, where he was picked up by a relative. The vehicle was towed away.

—From staff reports

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