Minn. woman wasn't driving but faces DUI

Dec. 1, 2011 at 3:20 PM   |   0 comments

ST. PAUL, Minn., Dec. 1 (UPI) -- You don't have to be behind the wheel to be charged with drunken driving, a young woman in St. Paul, Minn., has learned while out celebrating her birthday.

A complaint filed in Ramsey County District Court Tuesday accuses Mollie Marie Lenzi, 22, of being intoxicated when, after leaving a St. Paul bar with her friends April 19, she grabbed the steering wheel while sitting in the front passenger seat. The car veered and struck the median on Interstate 94, drawing the attention of state police, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Thursday.

The complaint stated the driver and one rear-seat passenger both told the state trooper Lenzi was "really drunk" and they saw her jerk the steering wheel. Another rear-seat passenger told the officer she had her eyes closed when the accident occurred but heard someone say "What the heck?" just before impact, the newspaper said.

The trooper reported smelling alcohol inside the car and on Lenzi, who he said had slurred speech, and test results provided police later showed that while the designated driver had a legal blood-alcohol level of 0.025, Lenzi's came back at 0.21, the Pioneer Press said. The legal limit in Minnesota is 0.08.

The trooper said after reading Lenzi an advisory about her rights, she replied she wasn't driving.

"Lenzi was then told that she was in physical control of the vehicle when she grabbed the steering wheel, causing the vehicle to crash," the complaint said.

She asked to speak to an attorney but never made a call, the complaint said.

Lenzi now faces two counts of felony criminal vehicular operation and is to appear in court Dec. 23.

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