Driver accused of hitting cop car while drunk charged again

Belgium man allegedly violated bail after being arrested for fourth OWI
By 
BILL SCHANEN IV
Ozaukee Press staff

A 47-year-old Belgium man who was charged in November with fourth-offense drunken driving after authorities said he nearly collided with a Port Washington police car when he drove into the oncoming lane of traffic, then, after being pulled over by the officer, drove into her squad car, now faces another felony.

Rick R. Rome waived his preliminary hearing and was bound over for trial last week on a felony charge of bail jumping after the secure continuous remote alcohol monitor (SCRAM) he was ordered to wear when released on $2,500 bail in November indicated the device was tampered with on Feb. 16 and Feb. 17, according to the criminal complaint filed in Ozaukee County Circuit Court.

Rome was initially arrested on Nov. 10 after police officer Kirstin Moertl, who while driving south on Port Washington’s North Wisconsin Street at 9:30 p.m. saw a northbound vehicle driven by Rome cross into her lane and almost hit her squad car, the complaint filed in that case states. Moertl said she had to swerve to avoid a collision.

Moertl turned around and pursued the vehicle, which was driving almost completely in the oncoming lane of traffic, according to the complaint.

Moertl pulled Rome over near the intersection of Wisconsin Street and Buetel Road and said she could tell from the tail lights that Rome had put the vehicle in park. But, while Moertl was relaying information to a dispatcher via the radio in her car, Rome apparently put his vehicle in reverse and backed into Moertl’s squad car, the complaint states.

Moertl approached Rome’s vehicle and, as she began talking to him, noticed he smelled of alcohol. Rome then told her he had been drinking at a nearby bar, according to the complaint.

When asked to get out of the car, Rome couldn’t open the doors. Moertl noticed that instead of unlocking the vehicle’s doors, Rome was locking them, and eventually she reached into the window, unlocked the door and opened it for him, the complaint states.

During field sobriety tests, Rome was unable to follow Moertl’s directions or maintain his balance. Then he began complaining of a medical condition, telling the officer that he had a high insulin level, the complaint states.

Emergency medical technicians were called, and after repeatedly declining medical assistance, Rome agreed to go to a hospital.

At the hospital, Moertl said she overheard Rome asking for a prescription for narcotic drugs because he would soon be going through withdrawal, the complaint states.

A test revealed that Rome had a blood alcohol level of .198, more than two times higher than the .08 threshold for evidence of intoxication.

He has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Rome was previously convicted of operating while intoxicated twice in Ozaukee County and once in Winnebago County between 1989 and 2010.

 Fourth-offense drunken driving carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and three years of extended supervision, as well as a $10,000 fine.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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