Jury takes 10 minutes to find woman guilty of DWI

Published 11:40 am Thursday, October 18, 2018

A Winston-Salem woman who handed a patrol officer a can of beer after she was pulled for speeding appeared before Judge Mark E. Klass in Superior Court Oct. 2.

Kelly Michelle Mabe, 38, was driving a Chevrolet Impala west on I-40 around 11:15 p.m. Oct. 7, 2016 and was clocked on radar, by NC Highway Patrol Trooper Kevin D. Leonard at 83 mph in the 65 mph zone.

Leonard initiated a traffic stop and testified when he approached Mabe, he detected an odor of alcohol. He said she appeared drowsy and that one of her two passengers was “acting strange, with a blank stare. Ms. Mabe stated she had taken Alprazolam for anxiety, and I turned my attention to the passenger to see if there was something medically wrong. He still wouldn’t respond. It was very concerning,” said Leonard.

He testified Mabe handed him a beer can that he noticed in the console, telling him it was empty, but it was half-full. She told Leonard the can belonged to her passenger.

Leonard had Mabe step out of her car and back to his patrol car, where she had trouble following directions. He began field sobriety testing but had to stop at one point, to “attend to other matters,” involving the passenger. Leonard did not elaborate on what was going on, but other officers were called to assist.

Mabe told him she’d had a glass of wine around 6 p.m. and had taken an Ibuprofen and the Alprazolam (trade name Xanax) around 7 p.m. She said she was on her way to see her sister and estimated herself at a 2-3 on a scale of 0-10 with 10 being drunk. Mabe failed field sobriety testing and tested positive for alcohol on a breath test, so Leonard arrested her, charging her with DWI and speeding 83 in a 65. A breathalyzer test performed after her arrest gave a reading of .09.

On dashcam video  played for the jury, Mabe can be heard to say she didn’t know the name of the passenger who was acting strangely and that she called him “D Black.” Leonard asked her, “Does he talk?” and Mabe answered, “No, not really.”

In closing arguments, Mabe’s attorney, Chad Freeman, told the jury the only evidence of bad driving was that Mabe was speeding.

“She was polite, able to articulate herself well and there was nothing wrong with the way she pulled over or got out of the vehicle,” he said.

Assistant DA Steve Boone told the jury Mabe admitted to having had alcohol and to taking Alprazolam, which is an impairing substance.

The jury deliberated 10 minutes before returning a guilty verdict on both charges. Taking into account the slight impairment (.08 is considered impaired), a safe driving record and her pre-trial assessment, Klass sentenced Mabe, on the DWI, to 60 days, suspended 12 months unsupervised probation. She is to complete 24 hours of community service within 90 days and must surrender her license and not operate a motor vehicle until she is licensed to do so. She was given credit for a substance abuse assessment. She must pay a fine of $100 and court costs.

Klass gave her a prayer for judgment continued on the speeding charge.