, Newburyport, MA

March 16, 2013

Police: Wrong-way driver was drunk


---- — BEVERLY — Trena Baron managed to make it 6 miles going the wrong way on Route 128 early Sunday before she was stopped and arrested, police said.

When state troopers offered her a Breathalyzer test and tried to explain how it works, she responded, “I know how these tests work. I have one in my car,” according to police.

That’s because she has two previous drunken-driving convictions, police said.

Baron, 27, of Nashua, N.H., wasn’t using her own car, though, as she allegedly drove south in the northbound lanes of Route 128 from Gloucester to Beverly shortly before 4 a.m., nearly colliding head-on with at least one driver and triggering “multiple” 911 calls to police.

Trooper James Maloney finally managed to intercept the Kia with California plates somewhere between exits 17 and 18 in Beverly.

When Baron rolled down the window, Maloney wrote, the trooper was “overwhelmed” by the strong odor of alcohol coming from inside the car.

“What did I do?” Baron asked, according to the report. Told she had been going the wrong way, Baron’s passenger chimed in, “I’ve been telling her that for the last 10 minutes,” police said.

Baron insisted she’d had just two glasses of wine, but police said she was slurring her words and unsteady on her feet and went on to fail several field sobriety tests. She was arrested on charges of third-offense drunken driving, bypassing an interlock device requirement, driving to endanger, driving the wrong way on a state highway and driving a vehicle with a suspended registration.

On the way to the barracks in Danvers, Baron was talkative, repeatedly asking to be taken home to Nashua, the trooper wrote in his report.

Her tone was more aggressive at the barracks, however, as she became insulting, suggesting that Maloney was “just a cop,” while “I can be whatever I want to be,” according to the report. She allegedly accused police of planning to steal her jewelry when she was asked to take it off, a routine part of being placed in custody.

And on the phone to a friend, she asked for a ride home and instructed the person to bring along a “30-pack” of beer, police said.

While Baron had a valid New Hampshire license, it allowed her to drive only a car with an ignition interlock device that requires a breath sample before it will start.

She was convicted of drunken driving in Arizona in 2006 and 2010, including one case that involved a charge of “extreme” drunken driving. (In Arizona, a blood alcohol level of 0.15 or more is considered extreme.)

Baron did not complete a Breathalyzer test this time.

Baron was arraigned Wednesday in Salem District Court. An assistant clerk magistrate agreed to release her on $1,000 cash bail, which was posted Sunday afternoon.

Prosecutor Patrick Collins filed a motion seeking to have her held without bail as a danger to the public. She was put in custody, and after a brief hearing, Judge Matthew Machera agreed, deeming Baron too dangerous to release.

A pretrial hearing was scheduled for April 16.