WOODSTOCK – A Woodstock police officer is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol in a single-vehicle crash that knocked over a utility pole while he was off duty in Round Lake Beach.
Round Lake Beach police officers responded at 1:49 a.m. Feb. 11 for a report of a crash at North Hainesville Road and East Clarendon Road. Officers arrived at the scene and saw a truck off the road with heavy damage and covered in downed power lines.
Michael E. Niedzwiecki, the driver of the vehicle who also is an officer with the Woodstock Police Department, told police officers he was driving north on Hainesville Road approaching Rollins Road with his wife and “forgot” that Hainesville Road curved sharply to the left. His vehicle left the road and crashed into a telephone pole and a highway marker sign, according to the police report.
“I knew that curve was there, I just forgot about that curve,” Niedzwiecki told the officers, according to the report.
When speaking with police, Niedzwiecki, 29, of Lake Villa was slurring his words, and officers noted they could smell a “strong odor of an alcoholic beverage,” according to the report. His eyes also were glassy and bloodshot, and he identified himself as a police officer by displaying his badge. Niedzwiecki and his wife both declined medical attention at the scene.
Niedzwiecki refused to participate in field sobriety tests, and he was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. He also refused to submit to a breath sample while at the police station, according to the report.
When Niedzwiecki was being taken into custody, his wife said loudly, “I was driving; you have no witness, you have no proof – you can’t refute me,” according to the report. Officers told her it was known that her husband was the driver.
Preliminary investigations indicated that Niedzwiecki was driving faster than the posted 30 mph speed limit and at a speed greater than necessary to maintain control of the vehicle on the curve, according to the report.
He was charged Feb. 15 with driving under the influence of alcohol and cited for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.
Niedzwiecki was hired by the Woodstock Police Department in March 2012 and is assigned to the department’s patrol division. Woodstock Police Chief John Lieb said Niedzwiecki has been on “allocated benefit time” and therefore has not returned to work, Lieb said.
Lieb declined to say whether Niedzwiecki would face disciplinary actions.
Niedzwiecki couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday evening.
He will appear March 16 in Lake County Court for an arraignment on the charges.