By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — Two men are facing 7th offense OWI charges in separate weekend arrests, both of which involve suspected drug use.

Richard J. Zabel of Berlin. Courtesy of the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department

The first arrest happened at around 10:30 a.m. on Friday, when a State Patrol trooper stopped a driver in the town of Knowlton after a check of the vehicle’s registration showed the driver, 53-year-old Richard Zabel of Berlin, had a suspended license.

After Zabel got out of his vehicle, the trooper noted Zabel’s “odd behavior” and asked if he had been drinking, according to the police report. In response, Zabel “blew into (the officer’s) face three times,” then disclosed that he was transporting two large bags of marijuana in his vehicle, the report stated. A preliminary breath test registered no alcohol in Zabel’s bloodstream.

A search of the vehicle revealed about 332 grams of marijuana and a bag containing three prescription pills for which Zabel did not have a prescription, police said.

After failing field sobriety tests, Zabel was transported to a local hospital for a chemical test of his blood before being booked into the Marathon County Jail on charges of seventh offense operating while intoxicated, possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, possession of an illegally obtained prescription and possession of drug paraphernalia. He appeared Monday in Marathon County Circuit Court.

In the second arrest, police stopped 53-year-old Brad Weber of Mosinee at about 10:30 p.m. on Saturday on Hwy. 51 at Rib Mountain Drive after an officer noticed Weber was allegedly driving without his headlights on.

Brad R. Weber of Mosinee. Courtesy of the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department

The officer immediately noticed an open beer bottle in the cup holder of the vehicle, according to the police report, and a marijuana pipe with marijuana inside it was discovered in Weber’s pocket.

Preliminary breath test results showed a blood alcohol concentration of 0.053 percent. That number is less than the 0.08 limit for driving in Wisconsin, but higher than the 0.02 percent imposed on Weber after his previous six OWI convictions. But Weber allegedly failed field sobriety tests, leading police to suspect drug use, according to court documents, and blood test results are pending.

Weber also appeared Monday in Marathon County Circuit Court. He faces charges of seventh offense operating while intoxicated, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Both men are being held in the Marathon County Jail on $5,000 cash bonds and are due in court April 11 for their respective preliminary hearings.