MIDDLESEX TWP — A suspected drunken driver — who was more than double the state’s legal limit for alcohol — was arraigned Thursday on felony and other charges stemming from a slow-speed chase on several township roads, authorities said.
During the pursuit, police said the defendant, Julene W. Vidic, 53, of Adams Township, nearly struck seven other vehicles, including a cruiser from an assisting police department.
Senior District Judge Pete Shaffer arraigned Vidic on a felony count of fleeing or attempting to elude police and eight misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment and driving under the influence.
She also is charged with four traffic violations.
Middlesex Township Patrolman Bryan Costanzo was on duty around 8:45 p.m. Saturday when he got a call for a reckless driver in a sport utility vehicle in the area of Route 8 and Brownsdale Road.
The officer said he saw the SUV almost hit a guardrail while southbound on Route 8 near the Mystic Lanes bowling alley. He activated his emergency lights.
When Vidic barely missed hitting the stop sign as she turned onto Old Route 8 south and kept going, he hit the siren. He also called Adams Township to assist.
She eventually made a left-hand turn onto Route 228 west, in the direction of her home, and allegedly did not stop.
Costanzo said that during the chase, which never got over 30 mph, the defendant almost caused several accidents with other vehicles, including a pair of near head-ons while in the opposing lane.
Adams Township police, which assisted with three cars, at one point completely shut down Route 228 and Three Degree Road.
“They didn’t want anybody getting hurt,” Costanzo said of the decision.
The officer and Adams police eventually managed to box her in at the intersection’s traffic light, authorities said. Costanzo estimated the pursuit covered three miles.
Vidic’s elderly mother was a front-seat passenger.
Police smelled alcohol coming from the vehicle and subsequently took the defendant to UPMC Passavant in Cranberry Township for a blood test. Toxicology results allegedly showed her blood-alcohol level was 0.18 percent.
In Pennsylvania, a level of 0.08 percent is considered intoxicated.
When asked why she didn’t stop, Costanzo said, Vidic told police that she was “looking for a safe place to stop.”
Her attorney, Matthew Fischer, did not immediately return a telephone call Thursday.