TOWN OF RIB MOUNTAIN —A Wausau man is facing a felony drunken driving charge after his employer reported the man had arrived to work at a Rib Mountain restaurant and appeared to be passed out behind the wheel, according to police reports.

Keith Gardner, 53, appeared Tuesday in Marathon County Circuit Court, where he faces charges of seventh offense operating while intoxicated. A judge ordered Gardner held on a $10,000 cash bond.

At 9:11 a.m. Sunday, police were dispatched to the parking lot of Red Robin, 4650 Rib Mountain Drive, for a report that an employee due for work had passed out in the parking lot and was “partially hanging out” of his red Jeep, according to a criminal complaint. When deputies arrived, Gardner was sitting behind the wheel of the Jeep smoking a cigarillo.

Police detected a “strong odor of intoxicants” and said Gardner was badly slurring his words when he said he had had a “couple of beers,” the report states. Gardner allegedly refused field sobriety test, then twice pretended to blow into a breathalyzer tube and stated to the officer “Just take me to jail.”

Officers transported Gardner to Aspirus Wausau Hospital, where he refused to have his blood taken for a chemical test. Police obtained a warrant, and the blood was drawn. Results of the test are pending.

Gardner was on probation at the time of his arrest and was previously convicted of OWI in 1994, 1995, twice in 2002, then again in 2009 and in 2009, according to court records.

A pretrial conference is set for Oct. 4.

One reply on “Wausau man accused of driving drunk to work faces 7th OWI charge”

  1. People who think there isn’t a SERIOUS alcohol “culture” problem here in WI are just plain stupid. I’ve honestly lost count of how many 5th-9th OWI arrests have graced the pages here just in the last year. It’s far past the time for a 2nd + OWI conviction to not be a felony. Until the laws and drinking culture change, it’s sadly just going to be more of the same old crap. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-drinking, but when you don’t learn a lesson from the first conviction and the system allows things to go basically unpunished, there’s something seriously wrong.

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