OUI from the passenger seat: Woman grabbed steering wheel, sent car into swamp

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GREAT BARRINGTON — A Pittsfield woman has pleaded guilty to a drunken-driving charge for violently grabbing the wheel of the car her boyfriend was driving, sending the vehicle careening into a swamp.

Noelle Candelari, 43, who received one year of probation on the OUI second offense charge, also faced five other charges in Southern Berkshire District Court stemming from the Dec. 26 incident on South Street in Stockbridge.

One of those charges was dismissed, and the others were continued without a finding to April 25.

When an officer arrived on the scene, he found Candelari walking on the shoulder, unsteady on her feet and reeking of alcohol, according to the police report. He placed her in the back of his cruiser for safety, though she was not yet under arrest.

The officer then learned from the man who had been driving that he and Candelari, who live together, had been having an argument when Candelari "grabbed the wheel and jerked it right, causing them to veer off the road."

The man's teenage daughter was also in the car, and before police arrived, she was picked up by someone who took her to Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington.

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Police arrested Candelari, and explained to her boyfriend that she had "used the motor vehicle as a means in which to commit two counts of domestic assault and battery."

Candelari was transported by ambulance to Fairview after she complained that her face hurt and she was short of breath. Police said they later found two kinds of narcotics in her purse. She also refused a Breathalyzer test.

In addition to the OUI charge, Candelari was charged with two counts of domestic assault and battery, two separate drug possession charges and one count of negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

The assault and battery and negligent operation charges were continued without a finding to April 25, and one of the drug possession charges was dismissed.

Judge Paul Vrabel set Candelari's probation with conditions of drug and alcohol testing and driver alcohol education.

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-29-6871.


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