9th OWI Charges For Superior Man Following February Traffic Stop
A Superior man was recently charged with his 9th Operating While Intoxicated (OWI), following a traffic stop on February 12. The court handed down the charges for 66-year old James Ralph Whitwell at his initial court appearance the next day.
If convicted, those 9th offense OWI charges could net Whitwell a maximum penalty of 12 years and six months imprisonment and a fine up to $25,000.
According to the police report details shared in an article in the Superior Telegram [paywall], Whitwell's vehicle was pulled over after an officer noticed suspicious behavior. Whitwell's vehicle was observed pulling out of the Kwik Trip parking lot on Highway 2 near the Nemadji River. Superior Sargeant Joel Markon was on patrol in the area and noticed suspicious behavior in the way that the vehicle was being operated.
Those police reports detail that Markon observed Whitwell's truck "pulling out of the parking lot" at the aforementioned Kwik Trip. Once the truck started driving on Highway 2, Markon observed "that [it] drifted to the right and drove on the fog line while he followed it". When they both encountered the stoplight at 22nd Avenue East, "the traffic light turned red before the truck entered the intersection, but the vehicle continued through it".
That's when Sargeant Markon pulled Whitwell over.
During questioning, Whitwell confessed to drinking "three drinks at a bar in Hawthorne". Markon observed the smell of alcohol on the suspects breath and "reported that....[he] had bloodshot eyes".
Because Whitwell declined voluntarily submitting for a breath alcohol test, "a search warrant was obtained for a blood draw".
That article in the Telegram details Whitwell's past OWI convictions - which occured in both Wisconsin and Minnesota. "T]he most recent [was] in 2010".
Following his initial appearance the suspect charged - James Ralph Whitwell - was ordered "not to drive and not to use or possess alcohol". A cash bond of $2,000 was set.
Whitwell's next court appearance will happen in March.
This case is similar to one that also occured in February where a Superior man netted his 7th OWI during a Valentine's Day traffic stop.