Livingston County Sheriff’s deputies found 31-year-old Tatum Vaneizenga passed out this week in a 2001 Subaru Forester in the middle of the roadway, right on a freeway ramp. Her two children were strapped in car seats in the backseat. Vaneizenga and her children were discovered after several drivers called 911 to report a possible drunk driver on a freeway in Livingston County, Michigan.
The South Haven woman had parked her car on the freeway ramp of eastbound I-96 in Livingston County near Howell. The ramp let out towards another busy roadway, M-59 in Howell Township. according to Mlive. It also allows access to a primarily residential area to the south.
“It was stopped in the middle of the ramp,” Lt. Jim Lynch of the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office said of the location of the vehicle that Vaneizenga had parked on the freeway ramp. Tatum was passed out in the driver’s seat, having just exited the interstate highway. Her children, a 2-year-old boy and a 5-month-old girl, were in car seats, though deputies say that Tatum had no supplies for the children in the car anywhere.
“Deputies went and purchased diapers and formula for the children out of their own pocket,” Lynch explained. Vaneizenga were taken into protective custody.
After being roused, Tatum Vaneizenga refused to submit to a field sobriety test, but she appeared to be severely intoxicated, reports indicate. Tatum was subsequently arrested. At the Livingston County Jail, Vaneizenga underwent a breathalyzer test and blew a.355, according to Lt. Lynch. It is illegal in Michigan to drive with a BAC of.08 or higher, but drivers with a BAC of.17 can be charged with a stiffer offense under what’s commonly referred to as Michigan’s “super drunk law.”
‘Super drunk’ mom driving from South Haven to Pinckney was found passed out on a freeway ramp with 2 kids in car: https://t.co/ZgYND61TVc
— Kalamazoo Gazette (@Kzoo_Gazette) December 17, 2015
Vaneizenga said she was driving from South Haven to Pinckney. She wasn’t far from her destination by the time she allegedly passed out in her car on the freeway ramp, but the drive into Pinckney likely would have taken her down the area’s most frequented roads during the middle of the day.
Vaneizenga was arraigned and released Thursday morning on a 10 percent of $5,000 bond, according to Mlive. According to WSJM, Vaneizenga would have faced harsher penalties given her BAC, because the state’s “super drunk” law allows this when a driver has a blood-alcohol level over double the legal limit. The mother was nearly four and a half times over the legal level, according to WSJM. Earlier this year, in the same region of the state, a 28-year-old Howell woman was arrested after speeding with her two toddlers in the car. According to Milford Police Chief Thomas Lindberg, that woman’s preliminary breath test indicated a BAC of.225, which is almost three times the legal limit. That woman was said to be driving 93 mph in a 50 mph zone. Her children were a 1-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy.
Michigan’s “super drunk law” is aimed at ensuring stiffer penalties for more seriously intoxicated drivers, but is reportedly not always the option prosecutors use. According to WHMI, Livingston County Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt says they opted against charging her under that law because it only carries a maximum of 180 days. Given that she was allegedly intoxicated with a minor in the car, Tatum Vaneizenga was charged with operating while intoxicated with an occupant less than 16. It is reportedly a misdemeanor but is punishable by up to one year in jail. Additionally, she was charged with Open Intoxicants, a 90 day misdemeanor. Tatum Vaneizenga is due back in court on January 4 for a pretrial hearing.