A Palmyra woman allegedly driving in the wrong direction on Interstate 95 has been charged with operating under the influence after nearly crashing head-on into a Kennebec County sheriff’s deputy’s cruiser.

Miranda J. Doherty, 27, is charged with operating under the influence, failing to stop for an officer and driving to endanger, said interim Sheriff Ryan Reardon.

Doherty was held overnight at the Kennebec County jail in lieu of $1,200 cash bail. She was expected to make an initial court appearance Friday.

Deputy Brittany Johnson was driving north shortly before 2 a.m. Friday on Interstate 95, en route to the site of a burglary complaint in Clinton, when she saw headlights coming toward her cruiser as she neared the first Waterville exit. Reardon said Johnson pulled her cruiser to the side to avoid a head-on crash.

“If my reaction had not been as quick as it was, the operator of the truck would have hit me head-on,” Reardon said, reading from Johnson’s report.

Johnson turned around and began chasing Doherty’s pickup, a white GMC, with the cruiser’s lights and sirens activated. Reardon said the pursuit continued south in the northbound lane, with speeds hovering around 45 mph. Doherty at one point activated the truck’s right signal switch, as if she intended to pull over, but continued to drive south, Reardon said.

Sgt. Michel Dutil, of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office, eventually joined the pursuit. Johnson drove around Doherty’s truck to get in front of it and box it in to bring it to a stop, but Doherty pulled to the side before the deputies could complete the maneuver, Reardon said. He was unsure where on the interstate the stop took place.

Doherty told deputies she had been at a banquet in Oakland where she drank “two beers and a gin and tonic,” Reardon said.

Johnson noticed Doherty’s eyes were glassy and her speech was slurred, Reardon said. Doherty, who was taken to the Augusta Police Department after failing a field sobriety test, registered a blood alcohol level of 0.15, nearly twice the legal limit.

Reardon said he was unsure where Doherty was driving, but assumes she believed she was home, which is northeast of Oakland.

“We’re lucky we didn’t lose an officer,” Reardon said. “It could have been terrible.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @CraigCrosby4

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