Drivers charged with OUI, child endangerment

Wednesday June 6, 2012

GREAT BARRINGTON -- Two people are facing charges in separate instances of drunken driving with children as passengers.

The cases were heard this week in Southern Berkshire District Court, where Joanna L. Gage of North Main Street, Sheffield, and Charles M. Burgess Jr. of Dover Street, North Adams, were arraigned on charges of child endangerment while operating under the influence of alcohol.

Lenox police were notified that Gage, 37, had driven a 1998 Honda Accord from the Lenox Community Center at around 3 p.m. on Saturday with a 4-year-old child in the back seat, according to a police report. Gage allegedly had a strong odor of alcohol when she arrived at the center.

Gage was pulled over on Goodrich Street in Stockbridge, and she failed a field sobriety test being unable to stand on one leg. The child was sleeping in the back seat at the time, and two bottles of Popov vodka -- one empty pint and a three-quarters empty quart -- were found in the vehicle, according to the police report.

Gage was then taken to the state police barracks in Lee, where she refused a breath test.

The child was taken back to the Lenox police station, where she was picked up by her father.

In addition to the child endangerment charge, Gage faces misdemeanor charges of OUI and unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

Burgess, 24, was pulled over on Main Street by Great Barrington police at 10:30 p.m. on Friday after radar indicated he was driving 56 mph in a 40 mph zone. There were two children under the age of 14 in the vehicle -- one of which was not in a required car seat -- though court documents don't specify the ages of the children.

Burgess' blood-alcohol content was twice the legal limit at the time of his arrest, according to police. Burgess is facing two counts of child endangerment while under the influence and a misdemeanor count of OUI. He was also cited for speeding and for driving with a child in the vehicle under 8 years old or under 58 inches without a car seat.

In both cases, the relationships between the children and the accused was not specified in court documents.

Gage and Burgess are due back in court for pre-trial hearings on July 9.

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