PEORIA (3TV/CBS 5) – A Peoria woman is facing a slew of misdemeanor and felony charges after police say she drove drunk -- into oncoming traffic -- with her four children in the car.
Police arrested Joni Laughlin, 61, on suspicion of DUI in the parking lot of the Safeway at Vistancia Boulevard and El Mirage Road Saturday afternoon.
It started with a report of a wrong-way driver near the store. The person who called 911 followed that car into the Safeway parking lot.
According to Laughlin’s public court documents, the 911 caller parked his car, ran to the driver’s side of Laughlin’s car “and saw she was heavily impaired.”
The caller also said that “four children were in the back seats screaming and crying.”
Both paramedics and officers said they smelled alcohol on Laughlin’s breath.
“While asking the defendant questions she had a blank stare, was very confused, and did not know where she was,” reads the probable cause for arrest statement. “The defendant stated she was at rehab, then stated she was at Park West shopping center near the 101 and Northern. The defendant said she was driving home with her four kids.”
Officers tried to conduct a standard field sobriety test but “she was unable to understand the instructions to even get into the test taking stance.”
The arresting officer said Laughlin repeatedly asked them to get her kids, all of whom are younger than 15, out of the car.
“Due to her high intoxication level, the defendant did not realize the children had been removed from the vehicle prior to her and were standing not more than 25 feet behind us with the family friend,” the officer wrote in the probable cause statement.
Police said a preliminary breath test put her blood alcohol concentration at 0.254 percent, which is more than three times the legal definition of impairment (0.08 percent).
It’s not clear if Laughlin has a history of DUI.
Police said a family friend is caring for the kids because their father is out of town.
Because Laughlin’s four children are younger than 15, she’s facing four counts of aggravated DUI, among other charges.
At Laughlin’s initial court appearance, Judge Tammara Wright set a secured appearance bond of $2,500.