Wednesday, January 6, 2010
The Sturgis woman who prosecutors say was arrested with a blood-alcohol level almost nine times the legal driving limit, has pleaded not guilty in Sturgis to driving under the influence.
Marguerite Engle, 45, entered the plea Tuesday in Meade County Magistrate Court in Sturgis. Engle was arrested Dec. 1 when she was found passed out behind the wheel of a stolen delivery van along Interstate 90.
Meade County State’s Attorney Jesse Sondreal said Wednesday that other charges against Engle will be presented to a grand jury on Thursday, Jan. 14. Those include driving under the influence, misdemeanor marijuana possession, possession of drug paraphernalia and not having a valid driver’s license.
Sondreal earlier said Engle had a blood-alcohol level of .708 percent, possibly a state record, when she was found behind the wheel of the vehicle parked on I-90.
A South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper discovered Engle passed out behind the wheel of a delivery truck reported stolen from Rapid City.
Her blood-alcohol level was almost nine times South Dakota’s legal limit of .08 percent.
Engle’s reading may be the highest ever recorded in South Dakota, Sondreal said.
Sondreal said a state chemist recalled a sample that tested .53, but nothing higher, in his more than 30 years on the job.
Dr. Robert Looyenga, who recently retired from the Rapid City Police Department’s forensic laboratory, told Sondreal that the highest blood-alcohol sample he tested measured .56 percent.
Sondreal’s research indicates that a blood-alcohol level of .40 is considered a lethal dose for about 50 percent of the population.
“Engle’s was almost double that,” Sondreal said.
After she was found, Engle was hospitalized and freed on bond.
She failed to appear in court on Dec. 15, but Sturgis police located her Jan. 4 in another stolen car sitting in a ditch along S.D. Highway 34 near Fort Meade.
Engle was arrested for second offense driving under the influence and taken to jail. She is being held without bond.
Sondreal said Engle has been living in a hotel after recently moving here from Minnesota.
Engle is most likely facing charges in Pennington County since both vehicles were stolen in Rapid City, Sondreal said.