Washington woman charged with driving wrong way while drunk

2014-06-26T16:25:00Z 2014-06-26T21:29:06Z Washington woman charged with driving wrong way while drunkBy EDDIE GREGG egregg@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

A Washington state woman accused of driving drunk the wrong way on Interstate 94 with a box of wine in her car is facing DUI and criminal endangerment charges.

Melissa Suzanne Noonan, 47, appeared Thursday in Yellowstone County Justice Court on a felony criminal endangerment charge and misdemeanor counts of aggravated DUI and driving with an open container of alcohol.

When asked by Judge Pedro R. Hernandez what she was doing in Montana, Noonan said she was on her way to visit her elderly parents in Minnesota.

“I didn’t intentionally go the wrong way,” she said. “I was lost.”

According to charging documents, a Yellowstone County sheriff’s deputy responded at about 11 p.m. Wednesday to a report of a wrong-way driver on Interstate 94 and stopped a car moving west in the eastbound lanes near mile marker five. 

A Montana Highway Patrol trooper arrived and started investigating. He reported that the driver, identified as Noonan, appeared to be drunk.

According to records filed in the case, the trooper also found a box of Black Box brand of pinot grigio wine in a cooler lodged in the passenger-side footwell of the car.

Noonan performed poorly on initial field sobriety tests and the trooper reported he decided to stop further field tests for fear the woman would hurt herself.

Noonan gave a breath sample, which showed she had a blood-alcohol concentration of .281 percent, court records say. A later sample at the county jail gave a blood-alcohol concentration of .211 percent. The legal driving limit in Montana is .08 percent.

Noonan reportedly admitted to the trooper that she had bought the wine earlier in the day and drank a few glasses before leaving home. When asked if she thought the alcohol had made it unsafe for her to drive, she replied “obviously so.”

Judge Hernandez set her bond at $8,000 and ordered her to comply with mobile 24/7 sobriety monitoring.

She is scheduled to be arraigned in District Court on July 1.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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