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Driver pleads not guilty to DUI after rolling car on I-5 with children inside

A 32-year-old father of three pleaded not guilty Thursday to misdemeanor driving under the influence and three counts of misdemeanor reckless endangerment after rolling his car with his children inside on Interstate 5 near Tumwater Wednesday night.

The driver, Heber Garcia, of Federal Way, took a preliminary breath test administered by a Washington State Patrol trooper after the wreck. Garcia showed a blood-alcohol content of 0.087, which is just over the legal limit of 0.08 for DUI, WSP spokesman Trooper Guy Gill said.

Troopers also took a blood sample to determine whether Garcia was intoxicated during the wreck, but the results will not be available for weeks, Gill added.

Garcia rolled his car while headed north on I-5 near mile marker 102 about 8:15 p.m. No other vehicles were involved.

Garcia’s three children, ages 5, 7 and 10 all were inside the vehicle, restrained in car seats and suffered only minor injuries, Gill said.

Garcia was not injured.

Thurston County District Court Commissioner Paul Wohl set Garcia’s bail at $15,000. Garcia’s wife wept inside the courtroom as Garcia was placed into handcuffs and taken to jail after the hearing.

Garcia’s wife said alcohol is not the reason why the crash occurred. She said her husband lost control of the vehicle because he was reaching under the seat for a Gatorade bottle. She added that her children are at home and are “fine.” She declined further comment and did not give her name.

Gill said the trooper on scene administered a preliminary breath test because the driver showed signs of impairment. He added that the injuries from the crash could have been much worse, had the children not been in car seats.

“The reason their injuries are minor is because of that,” Gill added.

The reason why Garcia was charged with misdemeanors and not felonies is because the children escaped serious injury, Gill added.

Garcia’s next hearing in Thurston County District Court is scheduled for July 11.

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