SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

April 17, 2013

Wrong-way driver admits to DUI

BY JULIE MANGANIS
STAFF WRITER

---- — BEVERLY — A New Hampshire woman who drove the wrong way down Route 128 for six miles one morning last month, then launched into an insulting tirade against state police, pleaded guilty yesterday to drunken driving.

Trena Baron, 27, of Nashua was ordered by a Salem District Court judge to serve 18 months of a 21/2-year jail term on the drunken-driving charge, her third such offense.

In fact, after her arrest, Baron told state troopers that she was familiar with the Breathalyzer test she was being offered, telling them “I have one in my car.” (She subsequently went on to refuse the test).

That was just one of the things she told police in the early morning hours of March 10, after her arrest. Prosecutor Lars Trautman described Baron as initially oblivious and then “bizarre and belligerent.”

Baron hurled insults at the officers, then, during a phone call from the Danvers barracks, asked a friend to come bail her out and pick up a 30-pack of beer on the way.

According to a police report, Baron, driving her passenger’s car, left Gloucester after a night of drinking.

Her lawyer, Mark Barry, said Baron took a sharp turn at the rotary leading to Route 128, suggesting that it’s an understandable mistake for someone who, like Baron, isn’t from an area where rotaries are common.

Despite her passenger’s pleas, she continued heading south in the northbound lanes for at least six miles, before she was eventually intercepted by a state trooper.

Trautman urged the judge to impose the maximum sentence available, 21/2 years, followed by five years of probation.

“She really didn’t get the gravity of what was happening,” Trautman told Judge Michael Lauranzano. “But for the extreme luck of the defendant and other individuals, this could have been far worse than it was.”

At the time, she was still on probation for her most recent conviction, in 2010 in Arizona, one of two drunken-driving convictions in that state that Trautman documented yesterday for the judge.

Barry argued that his client is an alcoholic who needs treatment, not jail. He urged Lauranzano to impose the minimum mandatory six months for a third offense.

She’s taking full responsibility for this,” Barry told the judge. “Thankfully, no one was injured. It was 3:40 in the morning, and there were not a lot of people on the road.”

Lauranzano’s sentence for Baron also included three years on probation, with conditions that include random alcohol tests through a device called a “Sobrietor,” treatment and attendance at three Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a week.

She will also lose her driver’s license for eight years.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.