For police, it’s a familiar sight: drivers trying to avoid a DWI checkpoint. But it doesn’t usually end like this.
“I was directed along with my shift partner to go set up and be a turn-around vehicle,” said Officer Erin Streater.
Officer Streater did exactly what she was there for when she spotted a car turning around outside a DWI checkpoint on the frontage road earlier this month. Her only option: to plow right into him to keep him from driving the wrong way.
Officer Streater can be heard in her dashcam video saying, “Passenger, show me your hands! Passenger, how many are in the car?”
The driver of the car was approaching the checkpoint near Cutler and Pan American when he flipped a U-turn.
“Why are you going the wrong way on the road, sir?” asked Officer Streater to the driver who she hit to stop from continuing to drive the wrong way. She said her partner had tried stopping the driver before she decided to hit him.
“I looked to my left to see if there was even traffic coming. There were two vehicles. I could see their headlights coming up that ramp,” she said. So, Streater put herself in harm’s way.
The driver told her on scene, “All I saw was a sobriety checkpoint.” Officer Streater replied, “So why did you turn around when you saw that, sir?” He replied again, “I didn’t want to have to go through it.”
The driver was 23-year-old Keith Romero. He told Officer Streater he’d been at the Salt Yard. He said he didn’t drink, but was just giving his friend a ride home. He also had one request.
“Can you not call my parents?” said Romero.
Officer Streater walked away okay, but her car took a beating. She said it’s a stark reminder of what she finds out on the roads, every day.
“Knowing that I possibly stopped him from hurting someone else, I think that’s definitely a positive that came out of this,” she said.
Romero was arrested for aggravated DWI because he blew a 0.16, which is twice the legal limit.
State Police say they made four DWI arrests at that checkpoint before they had to break it up early to deal with that crash.