NWGA Scanner | September 1st, 2022
According to a Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office incident report, on August 17th, 2022, 12:40 AM, Cpl. Thomas was sitting stationary on Dietz Road at Hidden Creek Lane observing traffic when he observed a 2018 Jeep Cherokee pass a vehicle in a no passing zone traveling at 52 MPH in the 35 MPH zone. Cpl. Thomas was able to lock the speed into the radar at 50 MPH and initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle. Cpl. Thomas made contact with the driver, identified as Wendy Dawn Merritt, 46, of Chickamauga. After being advised of the reason for the stop, Wendy looked at the deputy for a few seconds, then replied, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that”. Cpl. Thomas asked Wendy if the slower vehicle was just going too slow for her, and she replied, “not sure, probably”. According to the report, “While speaking with Wendy Cpl. Thomas could see that her eyes were red and watery and could also smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from her. Cpl. Thomas asked Wendy if she’d had anything to drink and she immediately looked to the center console and said she had not. She picked up an energy drink from the cup holder and said she’d only been drinking that. Cpl. Thomas then asked Wendy if she would agree to a test of her breath and she asked, “if I don’t what will happen”.” Cpl. Thomas advised her he could smell the alcohol on her breath and wanted to know how much she had. She then stated she was with a friend at Bud’s for “a few minutes”. She was very hesitant and stated she had, “maybe a half one”. When asked if she was ok to be driving she said, “100% because….I’m…..I….I literally didn’t drink that much…I mean my daughter’s at home so I definitely don’t”. Cpl. Thomas noticed that her speech and mannerisms appeared slow and lethargic as if she was sleepy. During field sobriety testing, Wendy showed several signs of impairment. During the test, she kept saying she really needed to get home to her daughter. Wendy was placed under arrest for DUI and refused the state test. Cpl. Thomas located an opened bottle of Fireball whiskey, sitting upright, and in the center console, there was a Fiji water bottle with a liquid in it that was Fireball whiskey. Wendy advised that neither was hers. Cpl. Thomas Alsop located Cyclobenzaprine, Zolpidem Tartrate, and other pills. Wendy was transported and booked into the Catoosa County Jail, charged with speeding, open container violation, passing in a no passing zone, DUI, driving under the influence of alcohol less safe, and possession of schedule IV controlled substance..