A Rice Lake woman has been charged with her fifth OWI in Rusk County Circuit Court after a report alerted law enforcement to an intoxicated driver stuck in the ditch.
Melissa A. Breunig, 47, has been charged with one felony count of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated fifth offense and one felony count of operating with a prohibited blood alcohol content fifth offense.
Breunig is scheduled to appear in Rusk County Circuit Court on Jan. 21 for an initial appearance hearing.
If convicted, Breunig could be sentenced to a maximum penalty of 20 years incarceration or $50,000 in fines or both.
According to the criminal complaint, on Nov. 23 at 9:45 p.m. Rusk County deputies responded to the intersection of U.S. 8 and Wis. 27 for a possible intoxicated driver. The vehicle was said to be traveling westbound on U.S. 8 in a white dually pickup.
When the deputy arrived, the truck was not able to be located.
An hour later, a second call came in and the deputy responded to an area near Broken Arrow Road and Sheep Camp Road in the township of Washington. The dually was reported to be stuck in the ditch.
As the deputy located and approached the vehicle in the ditch, the headlights flashed on and off multiple times and the vehicle was still running. Breunig was sitting in the driver’s seat.
The deputy allegedly detected a strong odor of alcohol coming from Breunig; her speech was slurred and she had difficulty keeping her balance once out of the vehicle.
Breunig admitted to be coming from a family member’s home where she’d consumed two beers since 4 p.m. but had not consumed any alcohol within the last two hours, according to the criminal complaint. Breunig reported having been stuck in the ditch for the last 20 minutes.
Breunig consented to field sobriety tests. She was unable to keep her balance, swayed and stepped off the line multiple times. When asked if she should be driving, Breunig allegedly said “no, maybe not.”
She explained to the deputy that she was on her way home to Rice Lake but had no idea where she was.
Breunig was taken into custody and transported to Marshfield Medical Center – Ladysmith for a legal blood draw. At the time of the incident, Breunig’s blood alcohol content was .175, nearly twice the legal limit.
Previous OWI convictions include one in Rusk County Circuit Court in December 1994 and three convictions in Barron County Circuit Court in August 2000, August 2001 and June 2009.