Smashed: The toll of driving drunk in Minnesota

One face, one case: Marquetta Silva

  • Article by: JANE FRIEDMANN
  • Updated: February 11, 2010 - 4:42 PM

Marquetta Monique Silva

Photo: Hennepin County Sheriff

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Latest incident: About 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 31, on the ramp to eastbound Hwy. 62 from southbound I-35W.

Description: Silva, 36, was arrested for drunken driving after police found her trying to start a stalled car that was partially blocking the interstate exit. Police found an unbuckled 5-year-old child in the back seat.

She told police that the vehicle had stalled, but the officer noted that the gas tank gauge read "empty," according to the criminal complaint. The officer said her eyes were bloodshot and glassy, her speech was slow and thick, and she smelled of alcohol. She did poorly on field sobriety tests and refused to take a preliminary breath test. After her arrest, she refused to blow strongly enough into a monitor to produce a valid blood-alcohol reading.

Status: Silva was charged with second-degree DWI, a gross misdemeanor, and refusing to submit to chemical testing. The maximum penalty for each offense is one year in jail and a $3,000 fine. No trial date has been set.

History: Silva's license was revoked in 2004 after she was convicted of drunken driving and speeding in Wabasha County. She had to undergo an alcohol assessment. She also received two years of supervised probation and was required to attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving impact panel to avoid a 30-day jail sentence.

Silva also is facing charges related to an arrest for DWI and reckless driving on July 4, 2009, in Dakota County. Her blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit. Her license was revoked.

JANE FRIEDMANN

  • about this series

  • In Minnesota, drunken drivers who kill someone with their car sometimes get less time behind bars than nonviolent offenders. Public safety advocates say it's part of a culture of forgiveness surrounding drunken driving, a social problem that killed 893 people on Minnesota roads in the past five years. Read the Star Tribune's in-depth look at the scourge of drunken driving, the victims it claims and the public safety questions it raises.

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