UPDATED Thursday, April 3, 2014 --- 1:30 p.m.
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A former dean at the Milwaukee School of Engineering has been sentenced to a year in jail for his third drunken driving offense.
Seventy-year-old Patrick Coffey was accused of driving the wrong way on Interstate 43/94 for about 14 miles last summer with a traffic sign stuck under his SUV spraying sparks. A criminal complaint says Coffey had a blood alcohol content of 0.19, more than twice the legal limit.
Coffey pleaded guilty in January to third-offense drunken driving and second-degree recklessly endangering safety. WTMJ-TV reports Coffey, who lives in New Berlin, will serve his jail time in Waukesha County.
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Posted Friday, August 16, 2013 --- 4:51 p.m.
From our news partner, WITI in Milwaukee:
RACINE (WITI) — Racine County Sheriff’s deputies arrested 69-year-old Patrick Coffey of New Berlin late Thursday night, August 15th for driving southbound in the northbound lanes of I-94.
Officials say around 11 p.m., a Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office dispatch reported Coffey’s vehicle first traveling southbound in the northbound lanes of I-43 at National Ave. Multiple squads responded — and Racine Co. sheriff’s deputies were notified.
A Racine County deputy headed northbound intercepted the wrong-way driver near the county line. The subject pulled over, crashed into the median wall and attempted to back up and drive around the squad. The deputy used his squad to pin the vehicle against the wall.
Officials say Coffey struck two median walls, one in the Plainfield curve and the other just north of Ryan Road, prior to being stopped.
Michael McGuire was returning home from Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood with his two kids in the car Thursday night when he noticed Coffey’s car coming right at him.
“All the sudden a car came under the bridge directly at me. He was in the median but partially in the left lane,” said McGuire.
McGuire said he instantly swerved to the right and is thankful there wasn’t another car there.
“He sailed past me, maybe a foot from my car. I called 911 and reported that. I immediately said a prayer of thanksgiving and prayed he didn’t kill anybody in the next few minutes,” said McGuire. “I’m going to tell you this fellow is a menace, an absolute menace.”
Coffey had a blood alcohol level of .19 — more than double the legal limit for driving. He said he had been drinking at Irish Fest.
Coffey has two prior Driving Under the Influence (DUI) convictions from March 2001 and February 2011.
Coffey will be charged with a Class F felony Recklessly Endangering Safety, which carries a penalty of up to 12 ½ years in prison, DUI-3rd with up to 6 months imprisonment, and Operating with Prohibited Alcohol Concentration with a penalty of up to one year imprisonment.