Wrong-way driver charged with DWI on U.S. 550

Steve Garrison
Emory Werito

AZTEC – Emory Werito, 39, of Nageezi, was accused of driving intoxicated on the wrong side of U.S. Highway 550 on Monday night.

Deputies from the San Juan County Sheriff's Office were dispatched at 8:18 p.m. to the Hilltop Giant gas station on U.S. 550 after receiving reports that a blue Chevrolet pickup truck was headed north in the southbound lane without its headlights illuminated, according to the affidavit.

Deputies located the truck, but had to swerve off the roadway to avoid being struck by it, the affidavit states. The deputies pursued the truck, which was missing a rear tire, until it left the roadway and barreled through a fence.

The truck eventually became disabled in an open field, and reinforcements arrived to help arrest the driver, identified as Werito, according to the affidavit. A passenger was detained, but he has not been charged in the incident, according to court records.

Werito allegedly attempted to kick out a rear passenger window in the squad car that transported him to the San Juan County Adult Detention Center, the affidavit states.

Werito performed a breath test at the jail and twice registered a 0.23 blood-alcohol content, according to the affidavit. The legal limit BAC to operate a motor vehicle in New Mexico is 0.08.

Werito was charged Wednesday in Aztec Magistrate Court with aggravated fleeing of law enforcement, battery upon a peace officer, and drunken driving — a third offense. He also faces several lesser charges for traffic violations.

Werito has not retained legal representation, according to court records. He is scheduled to appear at a preliminary examination hearing on March 17.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644.