Lincoln County Supervisor Vorpagel charged with OWI

By Tina L. Scott

MMC Staff

LINCOLN COUNTY – Lincoln County Board District 9 Supervisor Christine Vorpagel has been charged with operating while intoxicated, first offense, and open intoxicants in a motor vehicle stemming from an incident on Saturday, May 18.

Shortly after 3 p.m. on May 18, the Lincoln County Dispatch Center received a call reporting an older woman was passed out in her vehicle on Deer Run Ave. just off Hwy. 64 east of Merrill in the Town of Pine River, but it looked like she was breathing. The caller also indicated it looked like there was alcohol on the seat near the driver. The reporting party said the woman’s foot was on the brake, but the vehicle was still in drive, and the doors were locked, so they were parking a truck in front of the woman’s vehicle.

A Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy arrived on scene just after 3:19 p.m. and was able to make contact with the driver. He noticed signs of impairment and conducted standard field sobriety tests, including a breathalizer test. The driver’s preliminary breathalizer test indicated a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .14. Anything over .08 is over the legal limit in Wisconsin.

The woman, identified as Christine J. Vorpagel, 69, was arrested for first offense operating while intoxicated (OWI) and transported to Aspirus Merrill Hospital at approximately 3:40 p.m., where her blood was drawn to determine BAC at that time. Shortly afterward, Vorpagel was released to her husband.

Vorpagel was issued a traffic citation for the offense, which lists a court appearance date of Monday, July 1. No appearance is required and Vorpagel is subject to a fine of $1,037.50 for the offense.

On Monday, May 20, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office also issued and mailed a citation to Vorpagel for possession of open intoxicants in a motor vehicle. A July 1 court date was scheduled for this matter, as well. No appearance is required, and Vorpagel is subject to a fine of $263.50 for this citation.

Vorpagel was recently elected to her position as Supervisor for Lincoln County District 9 in the April 2 election, beating out incumbent Don Friske by 45 votes. Vorpagel won with 55.87% of the vote.

Lincoln County Board Supervisor Jesse Boyd was asked if Lincoln County Board Supervisors are bound by any kind of conduct clause or how the incident might impact Vorpagel’s role as a Supervisor.

Boyd said he reviewed State Statutes and local ordinances and released the following statement on behalf of the Board: “It is important for all elected officials to be good role models within our community. We are all elected to serve at the pleasure of the ones we represent. While the County Board does not condone drunk driving, it is a matter for the legal system, and at this time (we) do not have enough information to speak to any future action that the Board may seek.”

Vorpagel is presumed innocent of all charges until proven guilty and/or a judgment of conviction is entered.

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