An Augusta man who was allegedly driving with a blood-alcohol level nearly four times the legal limit was among three people in the capital region police charged with operating under the influence during a three-day stretch in the past week.

Kenneth S. Donahue, 31, was arrested on a charge of operating under the influence around 7 p.m. Thursday after a traffic stop on Water Street in Hallowell, according to an affidavit filed at the Capital Judicial Center by Maine State Police Trooper Christopher Rogers.

Around the same time, state police Trooper James Moore was sent to the scene of a single-vehicle crash on Route 17 in Whitefield near the Chelsea line. Donna Dyer, 42, of Warren, was charged with operating under the influence of drugs and operating after suspension after her car drifted off the road and into the woods. Nobody was injured in the crash.

Those arrests came slightly more than 24 hours after Rogers arrested 29-year-old Philip E. Howard II and charged him with operating under the influence of drugs, marijuana possession, possession of drug paraphernalia and four counts of unlawful possession of scheduled drugs during a traffic stop around 5 p.m. Wednesday on Interstate 295 in Gardiner.

In the Donahue case, Rogers wrote in the affidavit that he stopped Donahue’s car for erratic operation after it swerved in its lane and sped up and slowed down for “no apparent reason.” Rogers wrote that he could smell alcohol when Donahue opened his door to talk to Rogers. Donahue had trouble following the trooper’s basic requests for a license and registration and one point tried to hand Rogers the car’s title. Donahue said he was headed home.

“I asked Kenneth how much he had to drink and he told me three beers,” Rogers wrote. ” I asked him the size of the beers they were and he told me they were regular sized beers in pint glasses. As Kenneth continued to talk I could smell the overpowering order of intoxicants coming from his facial area.”

Rogers asked Donahue to complete a battery of field sobriety tests, none of which he was able to accomplish successfully, Rogers wrote in the affidavit. Donahue blamed the poor performance at various times to a migraine, poor eyesight, a lazy eye and flat feet.

“I asked if it was because he was intoxicated and he said no,” Rogers wrote.

Donahue told Rogers at one point that he had been convicted of OUI three years ago in Wisconsin. His blood-alcohol level at the time was 0.16, which is twice Maine’s legal limit of 0.08.

Rogers took Donahue to the Augusta Police Department for an Intoxilyzer test. That test indicated Donahue’s blood alcohol level was 0.30, or nearly four times the legal limit, according to Rogers’ affidavit.

Rogers, contacted about the OUI arrests on Saturday, said the high reading was unusual.

“I think that’s the highest I’ve seen in my 10 years on the road,” Rogers said. “We’ve seen higher in other situations, but not driving a vehicle.”

While Donahue is accused of having been under the influence of alcohol, Dyer and Howard, and a third person, 27-year-old Joshua Johnson, of Dixmont, who arrested during a traffic detail Saturday on Interstate 295, are accused of being under the influence of drugs.

“To have two at the same time that are drug-related is unusual,” Rogers said of the Dyer and Howard arrests.

Rogers stopped Howard while responding to reports of an erratic driver in Freeport and then in Richmond. Rogers, according to his affidavit, began following Howard’s car at the exit 49 onramp and followed him to mile 51. The car repeated drifted from side to side. Rogers pulled Howard’s car over.

“Upon initial approach Philip immediately began apologizing for driving so poorly saying he recently had snow tires put on the car and was having a hard time handling them,” Rogers wrote. “He said he was used to low profile tires not the snow tires.”

Rogers wrote that Howard was “jittery and his pupils dilated” but Howard denied being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He said he had taken prescribed methadone that morning. He told Rogers that the methadone had been prescribed for a broken back, according to Rogers’ report.

“I suggested to Philip it was unlikely a doctor would prescribe methadone for a broken back,” Rogers wrote. Howard said he had been addicted to OxyContin, a prescription narcotic.

Rogers, at one point, asked about the smell of marijuana in Howard’s car. He said the smell came from a friend whom he had just dropped at the airport, Rogers wrote.

Howard unsuccessfully completed a battery of field sobriety tests, according to Roger’s affidavit. He noticed Howard’s tongue was dark green, or brown, which is consistent with heavy marijuana use, Rogers wrote. There was a white substance in Howard’s nostril.

“I asked Philip when he last used an illegal drug and he told me he used Oxy the previous night,” Rogers wrote.

Rogers wrote that he searched the car and found oxycodone, hydrocodone and alprazolam. Rogers also found two Mason jars containing marijuana, a scale and a box of baggies.

Rogers took Howard to the Gardiner Police Department, where state police Trooper Seth Allen, a drug recognition expert, conducted tests to determine whether Howard was under the influence.

“Upon completion of the test trooper Allen advised Philip as under the influence of a narcotic analgesic,” Rogers wrote.

Rogers on Saturday said charges for operating under the influence of drugs, particularly during a weeknight, are rare, but it is evidence of the growing problem of drug abuse and people driving while under their influence.

“It’s much more common than it used to be,” Rogers said.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @CraigCrosby


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.