CHEBOYGAN — A 58-year-old Merritt woman is facing drunken driving-related offenses after she was arraigned recently in 89th District court in Cheboygan.
Natalie Thompson was charged with operating while intoxicated third offense and an open container of alcohol in a vehicle for her connection with an incident on Oct. 3 in Cheboygan County. If convicted, Thompson faces one to five years in prison and fines of $500 up to $5,000 or probation with 30 days to a year in jail with at least 48 hours to be served consecutively and 60 to 180 days of community service as well as rehabilitation, costs of prosecution, cost of emergency response and mandatory vehicle immobilization.
The charges are merely accusations and not evidence of guilt. Thompson is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. The prosecution has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Thompson’s arrest occurred after Michigan State Police troopers from the Gaylord Post responded to a wrong-way driver heading northbound on I-75 in the southbound lanes around 7 p.m. on Oct. 3. The troopers responded after numerous calls were received regarding a vehicle traveling north in the southbound lanes.
Troopers located the vehicle as it approached them head-on in the southbound lane, according to a release by police. The patrol vehicle’s lights and sirens were activated, and the suspect vehicle slowed, then stopped, and then continued in the wrong direction once it passed the troopers, police said. The troopers turned around and positioned themselves behind the vehicle and then the suspect pulled over to the shoulder.
Troopers contacted the driver, later found to be Thompson, and observed signs of intoxication, police said. When asked where she was going, Thompson told police she did not know where she was and she did not realize she was traveling in the wrong direction on the freeway, according to the press release.
Roadside sobriety tests were administered, and Thompson was subsequently arrested, according to police. A search of the vehicle also revealed one opened bottle of vodka, police said.
A $25,000 cash or surety bond was issued by the court and she is scheduled to be back in 89th District Court on Oct. 10.