By JEFFREY HAGE
Milaca Police officers found quite a surprise in the sports utility vehicle of a woman suspected of drunk driving.
Twelve empty 12-ounce wine bottles were on the floor of the SUV driven by 57-year-old Suzanne Phillips of Fridley following a high-speed accident at 12:18 p.m. Jan. 16 on Highway 169 that left one person seriously injured.
Authorities received numerous 911 calls that Monday afternoon reporting a jeep being driven erratically on Highway 169 just north of Milaca.
The vehicle, witnesses said, was being driven at a high rate of speed and was weaving in and out of traffic. At one point it went off the road, into a ditch, and back onto Highway 169 where it continued southbound.
A milaca officer officer arrived on scene and observed the SUV among a group of seven to 10 vehicles, according to court records. The vehicle was moving back and forth across lines of traffic before smashing into the back of one of the vehicles, the officer wrote in a report.
Tires squealed and other vehicles scattered in various directions, records state. The vehicle that was hit wabbled out of control towards the side of the highway to the ditch. The officer responded to the vehicle and found the driver covered in blood from a large cut on his nose, reports state. Authorities thought the driver may have broken his nose. He was transported by ambulance to Fairview Northland Regional Hospital. Other passengers in the vehicle complained of various bumps and bruises, reports state.
Meanwhile, the SUV traveled through a ditch and through an open field before finally coming to a stop.
Officers responding to the SUV reported smelling alcohol on the driver, who was identified as Suzanne Phillips. On the floor board of both the driver and passenger side of the vehicle were 12 open 12-ounce wine bottles.
Phillips was taken into custody and transported to the hospital where she underwent a CT scan and blood draw to test her alcohol level.
Phillips was charged with three counts of criminal vehicle operation, 3rd degree DWI and open bottle. She faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $10,000 fine if found guilty of the criminal vehicle operation charge.
Court records show that Phillips was convicted of criminal vehicle operation resulting in substantial bodily harm in November 2007. She served 29 days in the Anoka County Jail.