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By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — A 60-year-old Colfax man who drove his pick-up through the wall at the Bridge Stop in Wheeler has been charged with a fourth offense of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI).
Charles E. Martin appeared in Dunn County Circuit Court before Judge Rod Smeltzer for an initial appearance July 14.
Judge Smeltzer set bail for Martin with a $500 signature bond.
Martin is charged with one count of OWI (fourth offense), which is a Class H felony.
Anyone who has driven through Wheeler recently has probably noticed the large piece of plywood placed on the east side of the building just north of the door.
Directly behind the plywood is where the cash register and counter are located.
Gas pumps are situated only a few feet east of the door and the plywood.
The gas station was closed for several days, but is now open while repairs are being made to the building.
According to the criminal complaint, a Dunn County sheriff’s deputy was dispatched on July 13 to the Bridge Stop gas station in Wheeler at the intersection of state Highway 25 and state Highway 170 on the report of a vehicle crashing into the building.
According to a summary of the deputy’s report provided by Dunn County Sheriff Kevin Bygd, the deputy concluded that three vehicles had been involved in the accident: one vehicle was southbound on Highway 25, one vehicle was northbound on Highway 25 and one vehicle was westbound on Highway 170.
The vehicle traveling south struck the vehicle heading west on Highway 170, and the trailer being towed by the vehicle on 170 struck the vehicle traveling north on Highway 25.
The vehicle traveling south hit the gas station, causing damage to the building and possibly injuring one of the employees, according to the deputy’s report.
When the deputy spoke to the driver of the southbound vehicle that had crashed into the gas station, later identified by his driver’s license as Charles Martin, the deputy observed Martin’s eyes to be bloodshot and watery. The deputy could smell the odor of intoxicants, and Martin tried to cover his mouth to keep the deputy from detecting the odor, according to the deputy’s report.
According to the criminal complaint, when the deputy asked Martin how much he’d had to drink, Martin had replied, “Too much.”
The deputy asked Martin if he would complete field sobriety tests, and Martin said that he would.
“Martin exhibited impairment throughout all portions of the tests,” the complaint states.
“Prior to the test, Martin stated he couldn’t do this test when he was sober. Martin put his foot down multiple times rapidly, and then stated he couldn’t do that test,” according to the complaint.
The deputy administered a preliminary breath test (PBT), which displayed a reading of .07 BrAC.
“I asked Martin if he had any idea where he might be with his results, and he said probably twice his restriction. It should be noted Martin has a .02 BrAC restriction on his driver’s license,” the complaint states.
Martin was placed under arrest and transported to Mayo-Menomonie where a blood sample was taken to test for blood alcohol concentration.
Martin’s driver’s record from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation shows he had been convicted of OWI in Polk County in April of 2000 and in Polk County in January of 1997. Martin also was convicted of OWI in St. Croix County in May of 1989, according to the complaint.
As a condition of bail for the $500 signature bond, Martin was ordered to not possess alcohol, to not consume alcohol and to not enter any bars, taverns or liquor stores.
OWI (fourth offense) carries a possible penalty, upon conviction, of a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to six years in prison.
Under a different section of state law for the fourth offense, if convicted, Martin shall be fined not less than $600 and imprisoned for not less than 60 days.
Martin is scheduled for a continued initial appearance in Dunn County Circuit Court on August 10 at 11:10 a.m. before Judge Christina M. Mayer.