A Hamilton woman faces a felony criminal endangerment charge after allegedly crashing her vehicle into another one while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
About 10 p.m. Monday night, officers were dispatched to a report of a near-miss collision, and pulled over a vehicle driven by Constance Joy Richards, 47. As they were talking to Richards, a second driver called dispatch to report that his vehicle actually had been hit by hers.
Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Shawn Sylvan contacted the second driver, who said he was heading east on Woodside Cutoff road when he saw an approaching vehicle straddling the center line. When that car didn't move over, the other driver slowed and moved to the side of the road, where he said his vehicle was struck by Richards’ just behind the front wheel and into the driver’s side door.
The collision pushed the car about 4 feet, nearly causing it to slide off an embankment into a stream below, Sylvan reported. The driver managed to turn around and followed the vehicle that struck his to a gas station. There, he contacted Richards, but she fled, according to court documents.
Meanwhile, Ravalli County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Liechty said Richards initially claimed that her vehicle was struck by another one. When he returned to his patrol vehicle to verify information, Richards allegedly began to move her vehicle. She was arrested after refusing to follow his commands
The front left side of Richard’s vehicle was damaged and that there was a full growler and a hard cider bottle in the center console, Sylvan wrote.
“The bottle had drops of liquid on the side of the bottle, indicating that it had just been consumed,” Deputy County Attorney Thorin Geist wrote in an affidavit.
The officers transported Richards to the Ravalli County Detention Center, where she allegedly failed standardized field sobriety tests. Initially, she allegedly told Sylvan that she had a half glass of wine at a friend’s house after learning about the death of her mother, and that she wasn’t much of a drinker. When Sylvan confronted Richards about two prior DUI convictions in 2015 and 2016, she allegedly said she ordered a drink at a local business, then later said she had two glasses of wine.
Along with the felony charge, Richards faces four misdemeanors. including DUI, third offense; failure to give information and render aid; failure to give immediate notice of an accident; and unlawful possession of an open alcoholic beverage container.
She was booked into the detention center, then released after posting a $5,000 bond.