Superior man charged with 9th OWI

His truck reportedly drifted across the fog line and ran a red light along East Second Street.

Douglas County Circuit Courtroom, Superior, Wisconsin.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

SUPERIOR — A Superior man charged with driving while intoxicated for a ninth time made his initial appearance in Douglas County Circuit Court Feb. 13.

James Ralph Whitwell, 66, faces one count of ninth-offense operating while under the influence. A $2,000 cash bond was set for Whitwell, and he was ordered not to drive and not to use or possess alcohol.

James Ralph Whitwell
Contributed / Douglas County Jail

Sgt. Joel Markon with the Superior Police Department was on patrol along East Second Street at about 9 p.m. Feb. 12 when he observed a truck pulling out of the parking lot of the Kwik Trip near the Nemadji River without stopping, according to the criminal complaint. Markon reported that the truck drifted to the right and drove on the fog line while he followed it. At the 22nd Avenue East stoplight, he reported, the traffic light turned red before the truck entered the intersection, but the vehicle continued through it.

Markon pulled over the truck and identified the driver as Whitwell. The Superior man told Markon he had consumed three drinks at a bar in Hawthorne. The police sergeant could smell the odor of intoxicants and reported that Whitwell had bloodshot eyes. Whitwell refused both a breath alcohol test and a blood test. A search warrant was obtained for a blood draw.

According to the criminal complaint, Whitwell has eight prior operating while intoxicated convictions in Minnesota and Wisconsin, the most recent in 2010.


Ninth-offense operating while intoxicated is a class F felony with a maximum penalty of 12 years and six months imprisonment and a fine of up to $25,000. Whitwell’s next court appearance was set for Tuesday, March 7.

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Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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