OSPREY — A woman who went the wrong way on State Road 681 out of Venice onto Interstate 75 is facing charges after colliding with a responding officer’s vehicle.

Riannon Elizabeth Wittenbauer, 20, of Sarasota, is charged with DUI; DUI with property damage and reckless driving.

While a probable cause affidavit states she lives in an apartment complex off Honore Avenue in Sarasota, her arrest report lists her home address as in Wellen Park in the 13000 block of Bastiano Street.

It began about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday.

According to a news release from the sheriff’s office, Wittenbauer was driving a Nissan Altima north in the southbound lanes of State Road 681 in Venice, and then continued onto I-75, heading north in the southbound lanes.

“A responding deputy approaching Mile Marker 203 in the center lane identified the driver traveling in the left lane. The deputy activated his emergency lights and slowed his patrol vehicle,” the news release stated. “The suspect then changed lanes and collided head-on with the deputy’s Tahoe. Luckily, neither the deputy nor the suspect suffered major injuries.”

After the crash, authorities observed her “eyes to be bloodshot and watery. Her speech was slurred, thick tongued and low in volume. I observed her movements to be lethargic and slow,” the probable cause affidavit states.

After receiving Miranda Rights, she told authorities she was heading home from visiting friends. She initially told investigators she wasn’t wearing her contacts and usually gets exits the interstate at Exit 195 or Exit 200, which was the exit she left.

“The defendant stated that she slept approximately an hour the night before and had eaten little throughout the day,” the probable cause affidavit states. “She told me that she is taking a prescription medication … that sometimes she increases the amount she takes when she feels like she needs to.”

She denied using narcotics and hadn’t smoked marijuana in a month, the probable cause affidavit states. She refused breath tests but eventually conducted field sobriety exercises, it states. The officer conducted it and said the results “are indicative of a person under the influence of alcohol and/or controlled substances to the point that their normal faculties are impaired.”

According to the probable cause, she again refused to give a breath sample.

Wittenbauer works as a home health aide out of Punta Gorda, her arrest report states.

“While in booking at the Sarasota County Jail, Wittenbauer stated that when she gets out she is going to smoke a huge bowl (referencing marijuana)” the probable cause affidavit states.

Her bond was set at $740 and she was released later Wednesday, authorities said.


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