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By Bill Houston

Dover, WI — A Waukesha man stands accused of drunk driving after a deputy with the Racine County Sheriff’s Department witnessed him swerve into oncoming traffic.

Kenneth Michael Cooley was charged by the Racine County District Attorney’s Office with suspicion of drunk driving at 4:21 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27.

If convicted of the charge, Cooley faces up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000 after being charged with felony OWI – 5th or 6th Offense. According to the Racine County District Attorney’s criminal complaint, Cooley has five prior convictions for OWI dating back to 1997, including one prior felony conviction for OWI – 5th or 6th Offense in 2010.

According to the criminal complaint, Racine County Sheriff’s deputies observed the white Toyota Camry driven by Cooley striking the curb while attempting to navigate the round-about on Washington Ave. at Highway 75. Continuing on, part of the front bumper was partially torn off. Cooley crossed the center yellow line three times, which caused the drivers in the oncoming traffic lane to swerve to avoid a collision.

He told deputies he was driving his 82-year-old mother — seated in the passenger’s seat — home, but deputies noted his eyes appeared red, bloodshot and glassy, and he was responding to questions in a slow manner, according to the DA’s report.

After further inspection, the damage to the front bumper of the Camry also appeared more extensive than would have been caused by striking the curb at the round-about, and the vehicle was also leaking fluid. Cooley told deputies he had been involved in an accident with an unknown party driving a truck in the Milwaukee area earlier, and the two had exchanged information. However, Cooley was unable to produce any information about another driver.

One of the plastic cups found in the vehicle’s cup holders contained a red liquid that smelled like wine, which Cooley admitted consuming earlier in the day.

Unable to successfully perform any of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests issued at the scene, a preliminary breath test showed that Cooley had a .218 breath-alcohol content — more than 2.7 times the legal limit of .08.

Racine County Judicial Court Commissioner Alice Rudebusch set a cash bond of $2,500, which Cooley posted under conditions he not drive at all and not consume or possess any alcohol.

Cooley has a preliminary hearing in front of Rudebusch scheduled for  8:30 a.m. Nov. 7 in the lower level hearing room of the Racine County Law Enforcement Center.

In addition to prison time and fines, Cooley faces a permanent suspension of his driver’s license if convicted.

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