Semi truck driver pleads not guilty to DWI

Published 9:21 am Friday, September 11, 2009

A Canadian truck driver charged with driving his semi while drunk and also in possession of a controlled substance pleaded not guilty to all counts Thursday in Mower County court.

Jaswinder Singh Johal, 39, of Surrey, British Columbia, is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing Dec. 18 on two counts of felony drug possession, as well as single counts of DWI, refusing to submit to a chemical test and driving with an open bottle.

According to court complaints, Johal was pulled over on Interstate 90 near the 14th Street Northwest exit in Austin on Aug. 25 by a Mower County sheriff’s deputy for swerving over the center line and driving in both lanes at times.

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Johal had watery, bloodshot eyes and smelled strongly of alcohol. He initially said he had not been drinking, according to records.

Johal was asked to exit the vehicle and stumbled out of the cab. He was unable to complete field sobriety tests and appeared “extremely intoxicated,” according to the complaints. He told the deputy he had consumed a few beers and that there was alcohol in the cab.

Johal was taken to the Law Enforcement Center, where he allegedly didn’t cooperate when asked to give a blood-alcohol test.

A search of his vehicle uncovered two nearly empty bottles of vodka. Authorities also found two bottles of Methadone, a prescription drug. One of the two bottles was not prescribed to Johal.