Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - At approximately 11:09 p.m. on July 21, 2023, Montana Highway Patrol troopers were dispatched to a report of a wrong-way driver on US-93 near LoloReports indicated that multiple drivers had called 9-1-1 stating that a silver Chevrolet pickup was driving northbound in the southbound lanes. Ravalli County dispatch provided a license plate number and the troopers determined that the vehicle was registered to 43-year-old Tony Garcia. 

While en route, one of the troopers observed a set of headlights driving towards him, coming southbound in the northbound lane. The trooper activated his emergency lights. The driver of the oncoming vehicle flashed his high beams and appeared to be slowing. The trooper moved his vehicle in an attempt to block the oncoming vehicle, but the pickup steered onto the shoulder and continued traveling south in the northbound lanes.  

The trooper turned around and pursued the vehicle, ultimately joined by the other trooper. The pickup continued for a short distance before stopping. Garcia was ordered out of the vehicle. When exiting, he appeared to catch himself on the side of his truck to avoid falling. 

A trooper commanded Garcia to walk backwards toward them but Garcia appeared to have difficulty balancing, grabbing the bed of his truck to steady himself. When the trooper went to handcuff Garcia, he could smell a strong odor of alcoholic beverage on his breath.  

According to court documents, Garcia asked, “Why are you pulling me over?” The trooper told Garcia he was going the wrong way and Garcia responded, “No…no way…no.” Garcia admitted to drinking two beers. He also stated, “I’m almost to Hamilton, I’m almost home!” Hamilton is approximately 30 miles south of the location of the stop. When asked if he knew where he was right now, Garcia said no. 

The trooper observed during the conversation that Garcia’s eyes were bloodshot and watery, he had slow and slurred speech, and he continued to smell strongly of an alcoholic beverage. Garcia provided breath samples for the Intoxilyzer at the Missoula County jail. The Intoxilyzer indicated a breath alcohol concentration of .204, which is over double the legal limit. 

The trooper later spoke with three drivers who identified themselves and stated they had had to swerve to avoid a vehicle traveling north in the southbound lanes of US-93 that night. 

Garcia is currently being charged with felony criminal endangerment, aggravated DUI 1st offense, and driving on the wrong side of the road. On July 24, 2023, Garcia made his initial appearance in Missoula Justice Court and his bond was set at $10,000. 

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

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