Benton woman arrested for 11th DWI since 1995 - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

Benton woman arrested for 11th DWI since 1995

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Sheila Blair, 49 Sheila Blair, 49

BENTON (KATV) - A woman with a history of driving while intoxicated has been arrested again. Shelia Blair has collected more than 2-dozen alcohol offenses since 1995.

Wednesday, September 11, Blair was charged with her 11th DWI. She is currently being held at the Saline County jail without bond. She was also charged with refusal to submit to test, and failure to yield to an emergency vehicle.

Lt. Kevin Russell with Benton police says she did have a driver's license, despite her record.

Like police and prosecutors in Saline County, Channel Seven is familiar with Sheila Blair and has done multiple stories on her over the years.

Pamela Sell with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) says people make mistakes but, "When we are talking about a multiple offender, especially double digits that is someone who obviously is a danger."

In 2007 a judge handed down a 10-year sentence for Blair's 10th DWI. She served less than a year in prison because of overcrowding and she was considered non-violent. Sell adds, "Problem is that drunk driving and drunk driving negligent homicides that relate from drunk driving are not considered drunk driving offenses. That is something that MADD truly believes is a violent offense."

In the past, Blair's record has been wiped clean. Sell says that's because of a frustrating state law. "We have a lot of people who are repeat offenders who may have multiple DWI's and their 5 year time has lapsed so they're starting with a fresh slate. We do know that repeat offenders do account for a lot of the injuries and drunk driving related crashes. They are a danger to communities."

This year, state lawmakers made some changes. Sell explains, "Someone who at least had up to their 6 offense previously, they would be sentenced to 10 years in prison. This new law enhances those penalties to 20-years in prison. It's making it a little bit tougher on repeat offenders."

Shelia Blair is already an active parolee out of the Arkansas Department of Community Corrections. Lt. Russell says Blair will be facing a felony charge in this latest case. Wednesday, she was seen driving reckless, speeding, almost hit a car, and witnesses say she hit a street sign. Blair also led police on a chase.

 

BENTON POLICE PRESS RELEASE:

A woman was arrested Wednesday for driving while intoxicated. It was her 11th DWI charge since 1995.

Witnesses told police around 4:00 p.m. they saw a woman later identified as Sheila Blair driving recklessly in the area of Wright Ave. and Shenandoah Road. Shortly after that, she reportedly hit a street sign on Wright Avenue.

Police caught up with the 49-year-old merging onto the South Service Road of I-30, but she wouldn't pull over.

Lt. Kevin Russell said, "The vehicle continued driving erratically, making unsafe lane changes, and almost struck other vehicles until they finally pulled over for the officer."

Officers arrested Blair and took her to the Saline County Detention Facility.

This was Blair's 11th DWI charge since 1995. 

 

***This article originally stated this was Blair's 11th DWI arrest in the past 10 years, based on information obtained from police. Officers later corrected that to say it was her 11th since 1995.

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