Reports of a dangerous driver on Interstate 20 led to a DUI arrest Friday afternoon.
Officers from the Covington Police Department were called to the area of Waffle House on U.S. Highway 278 after receiving complaints that a female driving a white Jeep Cherokee had been swerving on the interstate and nearly hit several people around 6:30 p.m. The driver, later identified as 28-year-old Christine Marie Winkles, had reportedly pulled into the parking lot of the Waffle House restaurant and was parked there.
When the officers arrived they noticed a Jeep matching witness descriptions sitting (somewhat) in a parking space. The driver had parked so that it jumped over the parking curb at the end of the space and it was in reverse as if about to back up.
The officers parked behind Winkles’ vehicle so she could not back up and had her exit her SUV. Officers immediately noticed that she was uneasy on her feet, according to reports. At one point her phone began ringing and she believed it was in her purse but was unable to locate it. They also noticed that she had a sweet/fruity smell about her, which could have been from alcohol.
When asked if she had been drinking she reportedly told officers that she didn’t drink, but that she had taken her medication on an empty stomach and wasn’t feeling well. When she showed the officers her medication (Prozac and Klonipin), they recognized the drugs as ones that would cause impairment independently, but which would have increased reactions if mixed with alcohol.
While speaking amongst themselves, Winkles reportedly kept interrupting the officer’s conversation. After allegedly ignoring several requests to keep quiet, she was placed in the back of the patrol car.
A witness to Winkles interstate driving told officers that he followed Winkles on I-20 and that she repeatedly failed to maintain her lane on both the driver and passenger side of the road. And several times she left the road entirely, with all four tires in the emergency lane. When she got off on an exit the witness said she stopped her car and appeared to pass out at the wheel at one point, something she allegedly repeated in the parking lot of the restaurant prior to the officer’s arrival.
Winkles was wearing three or four inch heels, according to reports. Coupled with the heat of the pavement the officers did not believe she would be able to perform some field sobriety tests. She reportedly told officers that she had been sitting in the parking lot (when they arrived) speaking with her parents on the phone, but had been unable to even locate the phone earlier. When she removed her sunglasses, the officers noted that her eyes were "glazed over and glassy."
At times she moved her head instead of just her eyes and, according to reports, lost her balance several times. She also had "a continuous side to side sway." Because of this, as well as other sobriety test failures, the officers asked Winkles once again if she’d had anything to drink and she once again denied it.
Despite her denials, when officers searched her vehicle they reportedly found a metal cap from a 6-ounce bottle of Sutter Homes Chardonnay and a near empty bottle with a cap on of the same wine. There was a cold bottle of 6-ounce chardonnay as well that had yet to be open. She allegedly told officers that she had drank the wine the day before but was unable to explain why one bottle was still cold.
Winkles was arrested and charged with DUI and open container. She reportedly agreed to take a breath test and blew a .318. On the way to the Newton County Detention Center she continued to doze off in the back seat of the patrol car.