MERRIMAC – An Amesbury woman was more than twice the legal limit for drunken driving when she was pulled over by a state trooper Saturday night with her two sons in the car, according to court records.
Jessica Kelley-Benica, 32, of Carriage Hill Road was arrested about 8:30 p.m. and charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol, two counts of child endangerment related to drunken driving, and obstructing an emergency vehicle.
At Kelley-Benica’s arraignment Monday in Newburyport District Court, an Essex County prosecutor told Judge Peter Doyle that at the time of her arrest, Kelley-Benica registered a 0.19 blood-alcohol level, well above the 0.08 legal limit for drunken driving.
While Doyle released Kelley-Benica without bail, he ordered her to remain alcohol free with random screens and not to drive until the charges are resolved. She is due back in court on March 23 for a pretrial hearing.
Kelley-Benica violated the state’s Move Over Law when she drove past a trooper conducting a traffic stop in a breakdown lane on Interstate 495 north just before Exit 53 in Merrimac, according to a police report. The trooper got back in his cruiser and pursued Kelley-Benica’s car.
Trooper John Lannon quickly noticed that Kelley-Benica looked and spoke lethargically and was slow in handing over her driver’s license. He also noticed an odor of alcohol coming from her. In the back seat were her two young sons.
“I asked Kelley-Benica to step out of the vehicle to speak to me. Immediately upon exiting the vehicle, Kelley-Benica lost her balance and grabbed onto the vehicle.” Lannon arrested her a few minutes later and placed her in his cruiser. The children’s father was notified and picked them up, Lannon wrote in his report.
At the Newbury barracks, Kelley-Benica registered blood-alcohol levels of 0.215 and 0.199 on two different tests. Earlier she told Lannon that she had come from the Rockingham Mall in Salem, New Hampshire, and had two martinis after work.
When police searched her car, they said they found five types of prescription drugs. At Kelley-Benica’s arraignment, she told Doyle, through her attorney, that she had prescriptions for all of them.
Staff writer Dave Rogers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.