A Washington man who said he recently moved to Missoula faces a felony charge of driving under the influence after he allegedly backed into a picnic bench and nearly hit a person in Caras Park, according to court documents.
Wayne Jerome Buchanan, 51, was pulled over around 12:30 a.m. Monday by a Missoula police officer who saw him drive through a red light at Orange Street after speeding on Broadway, according to court documents. A 9-1-1 dispatcher told the officer the license plate number and vehicle Buchanan was driving matched the description of an SUV that had backed into the Caras Park bench and almost hit someone at around 8 p.m. Sunday.
According to a court affidavit, the officer said Buchanan, the only occupant of the vehicle, slurred and had bloodshot eyes. He allegedly admitted he had “a few drinks” and had been at Caras Park. He scored poorly on field sobriety tests, and a breath sample indicated a blood-alcohol content above the legal limit of 0.08.
Buchanan provided a blood sample that was sent to the Montana State Crime Lab for testing.
He made his initial appearance in Missoula County Justice Court on Monday, charged with a felony DUI as well as misdemeanors for lacking proof of insurance and driving through the red light. Prosecutors say the Washington Department of Licensing shows prior DUI convictions for Buchanan in 1994, 1995 and 2011.
In court Buchanan, through public defense attorney Joan Burbridge, said he knew nothing about the 2011 DUI. Justice of the Peace Marie Andersen set Buchanan’s bail at $5,000 and said if he posts his bond, he will be monitored for alcohol use. She appointed the Office of the State Public Defender to represent him, and allowed Buchanan to be screened for pretrial supervision.