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.


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.



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(19) comments


So where did the "family friend" come from? Was he/she in the car as well? If so he/she should be prosecuted as well.


She was not in the car


Wow - with that DUI reading how did she even drive to where they found her? Amazing skills! Glad the kids are OK.


Looks like an alcoholic for sure!


Wow thanks for saying that about my mom


About 1.5 hours before you posted saying she was your Mom, you said this: "Hello she has 6 kids I am not one of them but I was in the car." Your Father would like to speak with you about this. Try harder.


Looks like she likes the crack. She should be charged with attempted murder. If this is your mom, tell her she has a fan club of haters that want to see her jailed.


Anti-depressants are her problem, then she added alcohol on top of those. Not sure why she needed to drive to the mall and back.


Hi I’m brooke. I was in the car every, one of us in the car is okay.


You are fortunate you are not all dead, along with a car load of an innocent family.

JF Conlon

I did the math . . . she had her first kid when she was 46. Then had 3 more?! Either she's from India or these are not her "birth children". Hope the kids will be OK.


What an ignorant remark to make about Indian women. Did you take too much ExLax resulting in a decrease of brain cells?


Hello she has 6 kids I am not one of them but I was in the car. She’s not from India and they are her birth kids, 2 of the kids in the car are twins then the other one that is older and we are all okay

JF Conlon

And I am real glad you kids are all okay. If any of you need help, it's out there, but it takes work to find it. Good wishes to all of you.


What does it mean she is from India? Is this you just being a racist?


When she remarried her husband wanted kids. They were planning for two, but he last pregnancy resulted in twins, one of them autistic.


She's 61 with FOUR kids under 15yo. Let that sink in. Wow.
And is that glitter she's covered in? Did she just get back from Vegas or rehab? lol. Yikes.


Hi. I was in the car when this happened. I bought her the glitter so you can blame that on me


If you are old enough to post on here then you are old enough to know she should be in jail and you should be living elsewhere.

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