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RACINE – A Milwaukee man is facing 3-1/2 years behind bars after he was charged with his third drunk driving offense and told arresting officers that he’s been drinking since he was just nine years old.

James Fuerstenau, 51, was charged Wednesday in Racine County Circuit Court with one misdemeanor count each of operating while intoxicated and driving with a revoked license and two misdemeanor charges of bail jumping. If convicted, he faces up to 3-1/2 years in jail and/or up to $24,500 in fines.

Criminal complaint reveals decades of drinking

According to the criminal complaint, deputies followed a white SUV that was reported driving recklessly on Highway 20 going west toward Highway H. They initiated a traffic stop at 7-Mile Road and East Frontage Road where Fuerstenau dropped his keys outside the car and exited his vehicle before being directed. He failed field sobriety tests, and initial breathalyzer results indicated his blood alcohol was .197, more than twice the legal limit of .08, which could result in his fines being doubled at sentencing.

Deputies on the scene observed several empty, open intoxicants on the floor of Fuerstenau’s vehicle, and when they questioned him, he admitted to drinking and using cocaine and marijuana at various times throughout the day, including while he was driving, the complaint reads. His statement included telling deputies that he’s been drinking since he was nine years old.

Fuerstenau was transported to the hospital for an evidentiary blood draw that he refused. According to the criminal complaint, a warrant was obtained, and a blood draw was conducted, but the results were not available for Fuerstenau’s initial appearance.

He was assigned a $1,000 cash bond and ordered not to possess or consume alcohol. Fuerstenau will next be in court on September 19 for a status conference.

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