Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - On June 14, 2023, a Missoula County Sheriff’s Office deputy overheard dispatch broadcast a moving violation on or near Kona Ranch Road. The complainant reported that he observed a gold Buick driving down the center of a yellow double line. He further reported the vehicle slid through a stop sign before continuing eastbound on Mullan Road.  

The deputy called and spoke to the complainant who reported that he last saw the vehicle going east on Kona Ranch Road. The complainant stated that he would be surprised if the vehicle made it into town before crashing. 

Deputy Locates the Suspect Vehicle

As the deputy was approaching the Reserve Street Bridge, he observed a gold Buick sedan going south on Reserve Street. The deputy did a U-turn and got behind the vehicle. While stopped at the intersection of Reserve and 3rd Street, the Buick was stopped crooked within its lane. As vehicles started moving again slowly, the Buick got within a few feet of rear-ending a Semi trailer's bumper.  

The deputy continued to follow the vehicle for approximately one block and observed it weaving within its lane and crossing over the white lane, going into the bicycle lane. At this time, the deputy activated his overhead lights and sirens. 

Instead of stopping, the vehicle continued driving and accelerated to 50 MPH. The deputy followed behind the vehicle with lights and sirens activated for approximately two blocks before the Buick braked and abruptly merged to the right shoulder near the intersection of Strand and Reserve Street. The vehicle's front and rear passenger side tires went onto the curb and stopped. The driver put it in park and remained parked on the curb. 

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Deputy Makes Contact With the Driver

The deputy approached the driver of the vehicle by the passenger side. The driver identified himself by his Montana Driver's License as 56-year-old Robert Witkowski. The deputy and Witkowski had a conversation about Witkowski’s driving behavior. Witkowski could not explain it, but did not deny that he was driving poorly. Witkowski denied using any narcotics or alcohol and told the deputy that he had not had a drink of alcohol since 2011.  

The deputy, still under suspicion that Witkowski was intoxicated, asked Witkowski to perform standard field sobriety tests to which he consented. According to court documents, Witkowski exhibited 11 out of 18 clues of impairment. 

The deputy then requested that a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) respond to the scene and a trooper arrived to assist. The trooper suggested that a DRE evaluation could be conducted at MHP headquarters after the initial investigation was complete. The deputy placed Witkowski under arrest for driving under the influence and read the Defendant a PAST advisory. Witkowski consented, and the result on the alcohol screening test was 0.00, as expected. 

Witkowski then consented to give a sample of blood for analysis, and he was transported to Community Medical Center. The deputy took custody of the blood kit pending transport to the Montana State Crime Lab for analysis. 

Suspect Admits to Taking Pills

The deputy and Witkowski left the hospital and drove to the Highway Patrol Office for a DRE evaluation. A sergeant Mirandized Witkowski and he consented to speak with law enforcement. During this interview, Witkowski admitted that he took two pills at approximately 9:10 that morning that were previously prescribed to him. 

The trooper and sergeant performed a DRE evaluation, and at the conclusion of the evaluation, the trooper informed the deputy that he believed Witkowski was under the influence of narcotics, likely a Central Nervous System Depressant. Witkowski was arrested and transported to the Missoula County Detention Facility. 

Witkowski is currently being charged with felony DUI. A review of Witkowski’s criminal and driving history from the states of Montana and Washington identified that he has at least six prior DUI convictions. 

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

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