Woman accused of driving wrong way on Highway 20 charged with felony DUI
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RIGBY — A woman with a history of DUIs is now charged with a felony after police say she was driving the wrong way on U.S. Highway 20 drunk.
Melody Wenrich, 47, appeared in court Monday for arraignment after being charged with felony driving under the influence. On Nov. 24, 2019, police stopped her while she was driving westbound in the eastbound lanes of U.S. Highway 20. According to court documents, Wenrich’s blood alcohol concentration was three times the legal limit.
Police reports show around 1:20 a.m., a Rigby Police officer received a dispatch call of a wrong-way driver on the highway. While driving towards Rexburg from Rigby, the officer spotted a gold Jeep coming toward him. To avoid a crash, the officer drove off the road, turned on his emergency lights and pursued the Jeep.
A half-mile down the road the car stopped in traffic and the officer approached the wrong-way driver, later identified as Wenrich. The officer asked Wenrich if she knew she was driving the wrong way.
“No, I thought it was the right way,” Wenrich said according to court documents. “I missed my exit. I’m just coming home from work in Rexburg.”
The officer writes in his report he noticed a bottle of liquor laying on the passenger side floor. An Idaho State Police trooper and a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office deputy arrived and investigators attempted to perform a field sobriety test.
According to court documents, Wenrich struggled to maintain balance, slurred words and did not want to take the test.
The officer took Wenrich into custody and took her to the jail. She consented to take two breathalyzer tests. Both showed Wenrich’s blood alcohol concentration as .26 percent. The legal limit in Idaho is .08 percent. She has since been released from jail.
In 2015, Wenrich pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DUI, and Magistrate Judge Robert Crowley placed her on probation in Jefferson County with a period of house arrest instead of jail time. A little over a year after being discharged from probation, Wenrich pleaded guilty to a second misdemeanor DUI in Madison County. Magistrate Judge Mark Rammell placed her on a year of probation with a suspended jail sentence.
If convicted of felony DUI, Wenrich could spend up to 10 years in prison and be ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.