A St. Paul woman has been formally charged with criminal vehicular operation in Ramsey County District Court. Law enforcement and prosecutors do not seem to dispute that the 22-year-old woman was riding as a passenger in the vehicle. The serious felony drunk driving– related CVO charges stem from allegations arising out of an incident on I-94 in April.
The Minnesota State Patrol says a group of friends went out for an evening to celebrate the accused woman’s birthday at a St. Paul establishment. The accused had reportedly received free drinks for her birthday, but she was not driving at all that night.
After leaving the St. Paul establishment, a woman who says she had consumed only one drink drove the car. Later, the driver reportedly tested for a blood alcohol level of only 0.025 percent, well below the legal limit in Minnesota of 0.08 percent BAC. However, state troopers claim the 22-year-old woman accused of CVO caused a car accident by grabbing the wheel of the vehicle as the women were traveling along I-94. The passenger is accused of being in physical control of the vehicle.
The car apparently crashed into the center median. State troopers say three of the women were standing outside the car when law enforcement arrived around 2:25 a.m. The woman accused of drunk driving was sitting in the front passenger seat, according to state troopers. Prosecutors claim an alcohol test taken at around 3:50 a.m. revealed that the front passenger’s blood alcohol level measured 0.21 percent.
Authorities say the driver of the vehicle suffered two broken ribs in the car accident. The front seat passenger was formally charged Tuesday with two counts of felony criminal vehicular operation for allegedly grabbing the steering wheel. She is scheduled to appear in court on the charges Dec. 23.
Source: Pioneer Press, “St. Paul: Passenger charged with causing drunken crash,” Emily Gurnon, Dec. 1, 2011