Local man arrested for driving drunk for the third time

BY DI STAFF | MARCH 25, 2011 7:20 AM

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Iowa City police arrested a local man after he allegedly drove while intoxicated for the third time in what reportedly was a stolen vehicle.

Mitchell Earnest Jr., 55, 2401 Highway 6 E. Apt. 3428, was charged Thursday with driving while barred, theft, and third-offense OWI.

According to police reports, officers observed Earnest and another man next to a vehicle at the First Avenue Hy-Vee, which was registered as stolen.

When approached by officers, Earnest said he was lent the car by an unknown acquaintance, whom he dropped off in Coralville.

During the discussion, police said, Earnest had bloodshot and watery eyes, slurred speech, poor balance, and smelled of alcohol.

Officers later determined Earnest was a habitual offender and had been barred from driving since July 2009.

Earnest admitted to driving to the Hy-Vee but denied stealing the car, according to the report.

According to the complaint, Earnest said he thought it was unusual the acquaintance gave up the car so easily, so he had suspected it might have been stolen.

Third-offense OWI is a Class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $9,375.

—by Hayley Bruce

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