A Woodstock Police officer arrested in Lake County on a drunken-driving charge is on paid leave pending the results of an internal investigation, Woodstock Police Chief John Lieb said.
Officer Michael E. Niedzwiecki, 29, of Lake Villa, was arrested in Round Lake Beach and later charged with driving under the influence of alcohol after crashing his pickup truck into a utility pole, according to a Round Lake Beach Police Department report.
The crash happened around 1:49 a.m. Feb. 11 on Hainesville Road, police said, when Niedzwiecki lost control of his 2004 Ford F250 on a curve near Clarendon Drive and ran into a ComEd pole, knocking it over, downing power lines and blocking traffic.
Niedzwiecki told responding officers he forgot about a sharp curve to the left on Hainesville Road, which caused him to crash.
“I knew that curve was there, I just forgot about that curve,” Niedzwiecki told police, according to the report.
Round Lake Beach officers wrote Niedzwiecki slurred his speech, smelled of alcohol and had bloodshot eyes and an unsteady gait when they arrived on the scene, with one officer describing Niedzwiecki as “extremely intoxicated.”
Niedzwiecki refused to submit to a Breathalyzer, take a field sobriety test or give a statement about the crash, police said.
Paramedics were called to the scene because the airbags deployed, but police said Niedzwiecki and a passenger identified as his wife declined treatment.
According to the report, Niedzwiecki showed the responding officers his Woodstock Police Department badge, and his wife repeatedly told police “[Niedzwiecki is] WPD.” She also claimed at one point to have been driving the truck, police said.
“I was driving. You have no witness, you have no proof, you can’t refute me,” the woman said, according to the report. Officers told her they knew Niedzwiecki was the driver.
In addition to the DUI charge, Niedzwiecki was charged with failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. He is due to be arraigned March 16 in Lake County Circuit Court.
Lieb said Niedzwiecki used “allocated benefit time” following his arrest until Feb. 23, at which point he reported for duty and was placed on paid administrative leave.