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Motorist alerts police to alleged drunk driver

December 31, 2018

MICHIGAN CITY — Maybe it’s the holidays, but for at least the fourth time in the last two weeks, Michigan City Police have arrested a motorist for allegedly driving with a blood alcohol content more than four times the legal limit.

This time, it was an alert witness who notified authorities.

Police said 53-year-old Louis Winston Mitchell of Michigan City was charged Thursday with misdemeanor operating while intoxicated with a BAC over .15 percent. That was after a blood test showed his level at .391 percent, according to a police report.

About 6 p.m., a 911 caller reported a reckless driver near U.S. 20 and Woodland Avenue. The caller said a silver Lexus was “swerving all over the roadway,” according to the report.

The caller said the car was traveling slowly on U.S. 20, then braked at the red light at Woodland. She thought he was going to run it before he suddenly stopped. At the light, she got out of her vehicle to check on the driver and found him passed out behind the wheel, the report said.

She knocked on the window and he woke up, then continued westbound, “swerving all over the lane before he suddenly crossed the median and made a U-turn,” the report said. He then stopped in the parking lot of Brown Mackie College.

That’s where police found Louis, who had red, glossy eyes; stumbled and nearly fell after getting out of the car; and smelled of an alcoholic beverage, police said. He told the officers he was intoxicated, and two small vodka bottles were found in the passenger seat.

Taken to the police station, he failed the first field sobriety test and refused to take the rest, and also refused a breathalyser test, police said. He was taken to Franciscan Health Michigan City, and after a warrant was obtained, a blood draw was conducted, the report said.

When the test showed .391 BAC, he was taken to the La Porte County Jail, police said.

He appeared in court Friday before being released on a $600 cash bond and being ordered to place an ignition interlock device on his car, court records show. His next hearing is Feb. 1 in Superior Court 4.

Law enforcement officials say DUI arrests tend to spike around holidays, as more people are out celebrating, and more police officers are on the street specifically looking for impaired motorists.

In Michigan City, Mitchell had the highest BAC of four men arrested in the last two weeks on OWI charges with BACs over .30 percent, according to police.

On Dec. 24, a 57-year-old man was found to have a BAC of .355 percent after crashing his pickup into a parked RV, police said.

On Dec. 23, a 21-year-old city resident was arrested with a BAC of .339 percent after stealing and crashing a car, according to a police report.

And on Dec. 15, a 34-year-old local man was arrested after a crash, and a blood test showed a BAC of .372 percent, police said.

A BAC of over .250 is considered alcohol poisoning, according to the University of Notre Dame, and generally results in “loss of consciousness.”

— From staff reports

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