Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - On October 18, 2023, starting at approximately 9:28 p.m., 911 dispatch received six calls regarding an intoxicated driver traveling through Missoula. The second caller reported that she was traveling southbound on S. Higgins when a vehicle was approaching her head-on, with one headlight, in the wrong lane of traffic.

She had to swerve towards the shoulder to prevent a collision. She turned around, followed the vehicle, and observed it nearly strike four other vehicles as it approached Madison Bridge on Arthur.  

Other Callers Explain What They Saw

The fourth caller did not observe driving behavior, but he heard a collision in front of his house on the 100 block of Beckwith where he saw a yield sign that was hit.

The fifth caller was traveling southbound on the Madison Street Bridge when a vehicle was traveling northbound in the southbound lane. This caller believed the car was traveling at about 45 mph and he had to swerve to avoid a collision. 

The sixth caller was parked on W. Central when he saw the vehicle dragging parts. The caller started to exit his vehicle. When the suspect vehicle got closer, it drove into the wrong lane and the caller had to quickly shut his door to avoid being struck by the vehicle. The vehicle continued to drive away in the wrong lane of traffic. 

Officer Locates the Suspect Vehicle

A Missoula Police Department officer received the dispatch call at 9:36 p.m. The officer was at the Thunderbird Motel on Broadway Street and observed the suspect driver go by. The officer located the vehicle and saw it driving in the middle turning lane. The vehicle pulled over, drove up on the curb momentarily, and then stopped.  

The officer pulled behind it, but the vehicle drove away into the oncoming traffic lane, before getting in the correct lane and driving approximately 10 mph. The vehicle stopped again and then tried to drive away again, but was blocked by another law enforcement vehicle. 

According to court documents, the driver would not comply with demands to exit the vehicle. The officer opened the door and had to pull the driver from the vehicle. The officer could smell the strong odor of an alcoholic beverage and there was a beer can on the center console of the vehicle.  

Officer Conducts Test and Reviews Criminal History

The officer asked the driver, later identified as 72-year-old James Farrell, to perform Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. Farrell exhibited 17/18 indicators of impairment. Farrell was read the PAST advisory and agreed to provide a breath sample. He blew a .211 BAC. Farrell was then placed under arrest. 

Farrell is currently being charged with three counts of felony criminal endangerment and felony DUI. Court documents indicate Farrell has 11 prior DUI convictions, is currently on parole, and has an interlock requirement for any vehicle he drives. His vehicle did not have an interlock. This case was filed directly to District Court and Farrell’s bond was set at $50,000. 

The information in this article was obtained from sources that are publicly viewable. 

LOOK: Most dangerous states to drive in

Stacker used the Federal Highway Administration's 2020 Highway Statistics report to rank states by the fatalities per billion miles traveled. 

Gallery Credit: Katherine Gallagher

More From Newstalk KGVO 1290 AM & 98.3 FM