WEST SALEM, WIS — After his 9th OWI arrest, a West Salem resident is just one more away from getting actual consequences.
Frank Blandenberg, 49, was caught leaving Silverados in a red SUV, frequently driving in the opposite lane, allegedly using his feet to steer while he tried to pick which country radio station he wanted to listen to on the 15 minute drive home. He was able to knock down six mailboxes before police conducted a traffic stop and handed Blandenberg his 9th OWI charge.
“At that time, I advised Mr. Blandenberg that he was under arrest and that by law we needed to punch his OWI punch card,” West Salem PD officer Grant Ulier said. “I then informed Mr. Blandenberg that if he’s arrested for a 10th time, his 11th offense will potentially come with harsh penalties, and a free sandwich.”
Wisconsin is one of the most lax states in the union when it comes to drunk driving penalties. Critics say lobbying efforts are somewhat to blame, although some others say the issue isn’t so simple.
“You know, some of these rural bars are really far from people’s homes and walking isn’t really an option,” a local tavern’s spokesperson said. “And you can forget about trying to get an Uber or a Lyft in any reasonable amount of time. I mean what are they supposed to do, be responsible? Get cut off by servers? Psh. You know how much that would cost our business? It was bad enough that we had to close for so long to protect people from a dangerous virus. Glad that’s over. We need this.”
Police said Blandenberg’s blood alcohol content was 0.236. If he does get arrested for his 11th time, police say he could face six to seven minutes of a stern talking to.
Reporter Sam Shilts contributed to this article.