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Driver arrested for OWI, 5th offense, passenger for marijuana possession after crash in Zoo Interchange

MILWAUKEE -- A Saukville man was arrested for OWI, fifth offense, and a Cascade man was arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to deliver as party to a crime after a crash Saturday night, January 6th in the Zoo Interchange. The acting sheriff spoke out about the crash Monday -- saying impaired driving can be deadly, and it must end.

According to Milwaukee County sheriff's officials, shortly before 10:00 p.m., deputies responded to the crash involving one vehicle and a barrier wall on the ramp from the south to the west. It was discovered that the vehicle, which had been abandoned, had moderate damage -- with airbags deployed and blood on the passenger side.

The vehicle's owner and his passenger were found walking near Mayfair and Bluemound.

The driver, a 47-year-old Saukville man was arrested for OWI, fifth offense, with prior convictions in October 2002, December 2005, February 2009 and October 2010. An open Miller High Life can was found in the vehicle, sheriff's officials said.

Deputies also found sandwich- and gallon-sized baggies of suspected marijuana with a total weight of 1,011 grams -- and $7,600 in cash.

"The next thing you know, you've got a much much bigger case than what you thought you had at the beginning," Acting Sheriff Schmidt said. "These people could have killed somebody. They rammed into a wall, severe accident. Instead of a wall next time it could be that person next to them."

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The passenger, a 40-year-old Cascade man, was arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to deliver as party to a crime.

In a news release, Acting Milwaukee County Sheriff Richard Schmidt noted the combination of felony alcohol and drug charges in this injury crash and stressed “the need for aggressive patrols to reduce the threat of reckless intoxicated drivers placing the lives of all travelers in serious jeopardy. Our community partners and law enforcement must continue to step up our efforts to stop the disastrous impact of alcohol and drug abuse.”

Sheriff's officials in the release noted the driver is on extended supervision in connection with a 2010 case out of Ozaukee County in which he was convicted of possession of THC, second and subsequent offense, and OWI, fourth offense within 6 years.

He's now facing potential charges of OWI, fifth offense causing injury, possession with intent to deliver marijuana as party to a crime, and citations for failure to control vehicle, keeping open intoxicants in motor vehicle -- driver, and duty/striking highway property.

If convicted on the felony charges, he faces up to 26 years in prison.

The passenger faces up to 10 years.

Acting Sheriff Schmidt noted that there were more than 850 OWI arrests in Milwaukee County in 2007, and an estimated 750 were alcohol related.

The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office is combating reckless driving and impaired driving with saturation patrols -- where they'll target a specific area three times a day, and there's also a task force devoted to preventing OWI offenses.