The driver of a station wagon that eluded a Cumberland police officer and a Barron County Sheriff’s deputy could face up to nine and one-half years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine in connection with felony charges of drunk driving and fleeing an officer, Barron County Circuit Court documents said.
Defendant Jerome J. Tauer, 44, of Grasston, Minn., was due in court for a preliminary hearing Monday, July 15, 2019, court records said.
Just after 10 a.m. Sunday, June 30, a Cumberland officer radioed dispatchers that she saw a green station wagon passing another vehicle in a no-passing zone, but couldn’t catch up with the vehicle as it left the city going east on Wisconsin Hwy. 48.
A sheriff’s deputy was in the Rice Lake area when he heard the call. He went west of Rice Lake on Hwy. 48 and encountered an eastbound station wagon going about 70 mph in a 55 mph zone. The deputy turned to follow the car, which then accelerated at a high rate of speed, then turned south on 19th Street on the outskirts of Rice Lake, putting “considerable distance” between it and the squad car.
A mile to the south, the station wagon slowed down at the intersection of 20th Avenue, then accelerated again and went around another vehicle in a no-passing zone just south of the intersection. The deputy lost sight of the station wagon on a hill south of 20th Avenue, then spotted it parked in a driveway. It appeared the driver went around a corner in the driveway to conceal his location.
The deputy stopped and found a man, later identified as the defendant, standing next to the station wagon. He allegedly told the deputy that his throttle had stuck, but that appeared to contradict several instances when the deputy had seen the fleeing station wagon slow down.
The defendant allegedly smelled of alcohol and failed a field sobriety test. He was arrested and taken to Barron Hospital for a blood sample.
A records check showed Tauer had three prior drunk driving convictions in 2000, 2003, and 2006.
The charges also include four traffic citations: reckless driving, failing to stop at a stop sign, passing in a no-passing zone, and operating without a license.