Traverse City Record-Eagle

October 25, 2013

Mayor faces OWI charge

BY MATT TROUTMAN mtroutman@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City’s mayor awaits arraignment on a misdemeanor drunken driving charge.

City police stopped Michael Estes, 63, Wednesday at about 9 p.m. after his pickup truck was spotted weaving across turn and bike lanes on Eighth Street.

A breath test taken at Grand Traverse County jail found Estes’ blood-alcohol content was .12, above the .08 legal limit for driving.

“I asked Estes if he had anything to drink on this evening, and he indicated he did have one beer,” the arresting officer stated in his report. “Estes did state he knew he ‘shouldn’t have.’ I asked Estes where he had drank his alcohol, and he indicated while at home.”

Estes was released from jail about 3 a.m. on an interim $100 bond and awaits arraignment in 86th District Court on a first-offense operating while intoxicated charge.

The police report stated an Traverse City police officer driving east on Eighth Street reported a red Ford F-150 pickup truck crossed over the center turn lane line and then “weaved to the right portion of the roadway” into a bicycle lane for a half block. The officer started a traffic stop about 9 p.m. when the truck signaled a turn into the Family Fare grocery store parking lot at Eighth and Rose streets.

“As the vehicle pulled into the parking lot and made a right turn to attempt to stop, it did strike the curb,” the report stated.

Estes initially provided the officer with two expired proof of insurances and was “apologetic.” The officer smelled alcohol and noted Estes had “watery and glassy eyes.”

Estes failed several field sobriety tests and blew a .101 blood-alcohol level on a preliminary breath test, reports stated.

Estes was arrested “without incident” and transported to Grand Traverse County’s jail, the report states. Traverse City Police Chief Michael Warren didn’t return a call for comment.

Jail Lt. Buck Monroe said Estes was booked at 9:41 p.m. and released at 2:48 a.m. after posting an interim bond of $100. He said inmates aren’t released until their blood-alcohol content tests below .04.

“(Estes) didn’t drive anywhere because his vehicle wasn’t here,” Monroe said of Estes’ release.

Secretary of State records show Estes has an otherwise clean driving record, but 86th District Court records indicate in 1994 he faced reckless driving and operating while impaired charges in Antrim County. He pleaded guilty to reckless driving and the impaired driving charge was dropped.

His attorney for the incident, James Hunt, couldn’t be reached for comment.

An arraignment is scheduled Nov. 4 at 9:45 a.m., but could take place before then if Estes checks into the court early.

None of the three 86th District Court judges are yet assigned to the case. Judge Michael Stepka said his colleague Thomas Phillips already indicated he’ll recuse himself if assigned, but couldn’t say whether Judge Michael Haley would do the same.

“I likely won’t recuse myself,” Stepka said of himself. “I don’t think I have any bias or prejudice.”

Grand Traverse County Assistant Prosecutor Noelle Moeggenberg said first-offense drunken driving cases carry a maximum penalty of 93 days in jail. She said the prosecutor’s office typically doesn’t show up for misdemeanor arraignments.

“He’s charged like anyone else -- innocent until proven guilty,” she said.