Byline: Brian Lee
WEBSTER - A three-time convicted drunk driver allegedly drove into the front steps of a house while intoxicated and wearing a T-shirt that says, "I have a drinking problem."
James J. Johnson, 50, of 519 Quaddick Town Farm Road in Thompson, was ordered held yesterday on $2,500 bail on charges of drunken driving (fourth offense), negligent driving and malicious destruction of property less than $250. Mr. Johnson was also cited for a marked lanes violation.
Dudley District Court Judge Neil G. Snider ordered Mr. Johnson to remain alcohol free with random testing, and a pretrial hearing was set for Oct. 28.
A prosecutor requested $10,000 bail, in part because the state could not impose a condition that Mr. Johnson wear an electronic monitor with a "Sobrietor" device that ensures he doesn't drink alcohol. That's because he resides in Connecticut.
About 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night, all town emergency departments responded to a report that a Ford pickup had struck a house at 159 Lower Gore Road, a police report said.
The truck was resting on the front steps, police said.
A group of people gathered outside, including homeowner Spencer P. Scully, who handed Officer James Young Jr. the suspect's truck key.
"Luckily a couple of my neighbors came over," Mr. Scully said in an interview. "They said they didn't know what was going to happen. Did this guy have a weapon? He wanted out of here. If he would have got the chance he would have been gone, and then what would have happened down the road?"
Authorities closed the road, the police report said.
Mr. Johnson, who was not injured, slurred his words, according to a police report. When asked what happened, he said his dogs were running around inside his truck, causing him to lose control, police said.
The officer asked why his breath smelled of alcohol. Mr. Johnson denied he had been drinking and allegedly replied that his brother had been drinking. But police said he was alone in the vehicle with his dogs.
Police said Mr. Johnson turned his truck right onto Lower Gore Road, crossed the solid double yellow line, entered the property from Lakeside Avenue, "overcorrected" and re-entered Lower Gore Road.
When he overcorrected again his vehicle went onto the front lawn, police said.
During field sobriety tests, which Mr. Johnson failed, he stumbled several times, authorities said.