Wrong-way I-43 driver who was drunk sent to jail

Saukville woman triggered spate of 911 calls from panicked drivers
Ozaukee Press staff

A drunken driver who triggered a spate of 911 calls from panicked motorists by driving the wrong way on I-43 between Grafton and Saukville in June 2018 was sentenced Tuesday to six months in jail.

Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Steve Cain withheld a prison sentence for 26-year-old Katarina S. Beilfuss of Saukville, who pleaded no contest to one felony count of second-degree recklessly endangering safety, and placed her on probation for two years. The jail term is a condition of her probation.

Arguing for an eight-month jail term, Ozaukee County Assistant District Attorney Benjamin Lindsay noted that five motorists called 911 on June 23, 2018, after seeing Beilfuss driving north in the southbound lanes of I-43. And when a Saukville police officer tried to stop her, Beilfuss drove right past him, Lindsay said. 

One of the 911 callers said he had to swerve to avoid Beilfuss’ vehicle, according to the criminal complaint. Another said he was surprised he was still alive after having to avoid the oncoming car.

“Quite frankly, it was chance that separated no one getting hurt from someone being injured or killed,” Lindsay said. 

Beilfuss probably got on the freeway going the wrong way at Highway 60 in Grafton, Lindsay said. 

After Beilfuss failed to stop for the Saukville officer, the officer turned around and drove north after her in the northbound lanes. She eventually stopped just south of Highway 33 in Saukville. 

“Ms. Beilfuss appeared to be very confused,” Lindsay said, reiterating reports from the officer.

A breath test showed she had a blood alcohol level of 0.12, which is above the legal limit of 0.08.

In court Tuesday, Beilfuss also pleaded no contest to a first-offense drunken driving citation and was ordered to pay a $150 fine and $661.50 in court costs.

Crying, she told Cain she was sorry for her action and, explaining she is a single mother of three young children, asked for leniency.

“I don’t want to say anything to incriminate myself, but I normally wouldn’t do anything like this,” she said. “I would really appreciate it if you guys would go a little easy on me because my kids really need me.”

Acknowledging the seriousness of Beilfuss’ crime, her lawyer Brian Herro asked for a four-month jail sentence and a longer period of probation.

Cain said that while he’s sensitive to the fact Beilfuss is a single mother with many responsibilities, the fact she endangered the lives of other drivers after choosing to drink and drive warranted a jail sentence of more than the four months her lawyer recommended but less than the eight months sought by Lindsay.

Cain gave Beilfuss until April 17 to report to jail and granted her Huber release privileges. She asked to be allowed to report to jail in May in order to seek treatment for lingering symptoms of a concussion she suffered at work in December.



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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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