Austin Parson

Austin Alan Parson allegedly drove like the Dukes of Hazzard on Tuesday, resulting in his arrest on a felony charge of criminal endangerment and a handful of misdemeanors.

According to court documents, Ravalli County officers received a report about 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 26, of a black Dodge Charger driving recklessly in the parking lot of a Stevensville gas station. Earlier that evening they had received a report of a similar vehicle driving more than 120 mph and almost running into the back of a semi-truck.

Moments later, Ravalli County Sheriff’s Deputy Layton Guisinger reported over the radio he watched a black Challenger turn without stopping from Indian Prairie Loop onto U.S. Highway 93 southbound. Guisinger tried to catch the vehicle, but it allegedly was traveling more than 100 mph and he lost track of it in the Victor area.

A second deputy observed taillights at the far end of Sixth Street in Victor, and watched as the vehicle spun 180 degrees.

“The vehicle then accelerated toward Deputy (Emily) Hachenberger, where she observed the headlights of the vehicle swerve from the westbound lane back into the eastbound lane,” Deputy County Attorney Angela Wetzsteon wrote in an affidavit. “As the vehicle passed her, it was traveling 42 mph in a 25 mph zone.”

She turned on her emergency lights to initiate a traffic stop, but Parson’s vehicle turned onto Main Street, pulled to the side of the road and shut off the lights in an attempt to hide from the deputy, Wetzsteon wrote.

That didn’t work.

Hachenberger walked to the car and contacted the 21-year-old Missoula resident, and said he “had an overwhelming odor of alcoholic beverage coming from his breath,” his eyes were bloodshot and glassy, and he was slurring his words. He allegedly admitted he had been drinking, and an open can of Budweiser/Clamato was in the center console of the car.

He allegedly failed a few sobriety tests, but refused to perform others. Along with the felony charge, Parson faces misdemeanor charges of driving while under the influence, reckless driving, open container and criminal mischief for messing with wiring at the detention center.

He was jailed in lieu of a $10,000 bond.