The recent pattern on the East End of vehicular crashes leading to arrests on drunken driving charges continued over the Fourth of July weekend. In one case, the alleged level of alcohol in the blood of the defendant was near a dangerous level.
Treva Winona Walden, 54, of Northport was behind the wheel of a 2019 BMW headed east on Old Montauk Highway near Gurney’s Resort the afternoon of July 3. It is a section of Old Montauk Highway with extremely steep hills, which create blind spots for drivers.
Coming over one of those steep hills, the BMW struck the rear quarter panel of a 2017 Chevrolet pickup that was parked on the shoulder of the roadway, the police said. The BMW bounced off the truck, veered into the westbound lane on the narrow roadway, then swerved back into the eastbound side, going off road and crashing into some bushes, according to the police.
The airbags in the car deployed, but Walden was reportedly not hurt.
That section of roadway can be treacherous even for sober drivers. Less than an hour earlier, a two-car collision less than 50 yards from where Walden’s accident occurred sent five people to the hospital, though none had suffered life-threatening injuries. Neither driver in that accident was charged with driving while intoxicated.
That was not the case with Walden. The first officer on the scene reported a strong smell of alcohol coming from Walden. The officer asked Walden if she would take a sobriety test, but Walden allegedly refused, saying “I can’t do the tests because I’m going to fail.”
Placed under arrest, she was taken to headquarters. There, a breath test revealed that the percentage of alcohol in Walden’s blood was .30 of one percent, the police said. That number is just below the level that triggers an automatic trip to the hospital to protect a defendant from blood poisoning.
The misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated was raised to the aggravated level due to the reported breath test reading. Walden was arraigned on July 4 and released.
Another driver whose blood-alcohol level was allegedly high enough to trigger the aggravated misdemeanor DWI charge was Jhonny Uzhca, 38, of Sag Harbor. Uzhca was driving a 2015 Ford work van the night of July 2, according to the police, when he lost control of the vehicle, went off road, and crashed into some woods about 50 yards from his Milton Avenue residence.
The Sag Harbor Village police dispatched an officer after receiving a 911 call reporting the crash. The officer found the van, engine running, but with no one inside. But, Uzhca’s wallet was in the van police said. The officer walked to the address indicated in the wallet, which was a few doors down from the crash site, and spoke to Uzhca.
According to police, Uzhca was wearing a t-shirt with the same company name as on the van, and admitted to having been driving the van when it crashed, as well as telling the officer he had been drinking beer. A half dozen empty beer bottles were recovered from the van, police said.
Uzhca was placed under arrest and taken to headquarters, where a breath test produced an alleged reading of .19, leading to the misdemeanor aggravated DWI charge. He was released on July 3 after being arraigned via teleconference.
Accidents, reckless driving and speeding are three things that can lead to an arrest on DWI charges. So is driving too slow.
Brian Pina, 24, of Sag Harbor was pulled over on County Road 39 near Shinnecock Hills a little after 3 a.m. on June 30 by an officer who said that Pina was “driving between two lanes at about 10 miles per hour.” The officer said that there were several open containers of White Claw Seltzer in the vehicle, including one in the cup holder.
It appears from the charges that, after he failed sobriety tests and was placed under arrest, Pina refused to take the stationhouse breath test. He was released later that morning after being arraigned.