FAIRFIELD — A man who crashed his SUV into an exit sign on Interstate 95 Tuesday night has been charged with operating under the influence, according to state police.

Dennis Mitchell, 59, of Bradley, in Penobscot County, was traveling south on the highway when he lost control of his SUV, striking a utility pole and a sign on the ramp for exit 133.

The vehicle rolled over, and Mitchell sustained injuries serious enough, including a punctured lung, that he had to be taken from the scene of the accident via helicopter, according to Trooper Joseph Chretien of the Maine State Police.

Chretein said that Mitchell had been taken out of intensive care by about 2 a.m. Wednesday.

No one other than Mitchell was hurt, and no other vehicles were involved in the crash, Chretein said. Chretien said Mitchell’s blood was drawn, and the lab results are pending.

Police didn’t release Mitchell’s name Tuesday night, because the family had not yet been notified of the crash.


The accident, first reported to police at about 7 p.m., backed up southbound traffic on the interstate for about 45 minutes. The northbound lanes were closed briefly and used as a landing site for the helicopter.

There are thousands of drunken driving arrests each year in Maine, but the Centers for Disease Control estimates that only 1 percent of drunken driving episodes result in an arrest.

There were 7,275 drunken driving arrests in Maine in 2011, the most recent year on record.

That same year, there were 1,168 alcohol-related crashes in Maine, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Those crashes resulted in 23 deaths and 853 injuries.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287 [email protected] Twitter: @hh_matt

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