Patrick Coffey charged, accused of driving wrong way on I-94/43

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- 69-year-old Patrick Coffey was criminally charged on Monday, August 19th with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated -- third offense, operating with prohibited alcohol concentration -- third offense, and second-degree recklessly endangering safety.

According to the criminal complaint, a deputy was informed that a wrong-way driver was travelling southbound in the northbound lanes of I-43 near Oklahoma Ave. "The only description of the vehicle given was that the vehicle was a silver SUV that had struck a traffic sign near Holt Ave. and now had sparks coming from the bottom, indicating a possible flat tire."

The criminal complaint indicates the wrong-way driver was eventually stopped by Racine County sheriff's deputies. "A Racine County squad had pinned the SUV against the barrier wall so the car was unable to go any further."

The complaint says one of the deputies noted a "strong odor of alcohol on the driver's breath, and observed his eyes to be bloodshot and glassy." The driver of the car, Coffey, asked, "What's going on? I'm just trying to get home." But he had to be held up by officers because he was unable to walk without falling over.

According to the criminal complaint, "an open half-pint bottle of Fleischmann's vodka" was located in Coffey's pants pocket. He was also advised that he had been travelling on the interstate the wrong way for more than ten miles. Officials indicate Coffey was unable to perform any of the sobriety tests "because he was unable to stand on his own power and unable to follow directions."

An initial breath test on Coffey showed a .19 blood alcohol level -- more than twice the legal limit for driving.

The criminal complaint indicates Coffey was "coming from Irish Fest, where he had consumed some alcohol." Coffee apparently told deputies he "believed that he was on Moorland Road headed home while he was actually driving the wrong way on I-94."

The complaint against Coffey says a review of DOT video shows "at least seven cars and one semi-truck" swerved to avoid a collision with Coffey's vehicle.

If convicted on the most serious of the charges, Coffey faces up ten years in prison and $25,000 in fines.

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