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Racine County Sheriff's Office News

CALEDONIA — Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling is asking for “harsh” justice against a Cudahy man accused of driving drunk and well over the legal limit with a 10-year-old child in the car during a peak travel time Thursday night.

According to a release from the Sheriff’s Office, a deputy assigned to the Strategic Patrol Unit conducted a traffic stop at 6:05 p.m. Thursday in the area of Douglas Avenue and Four Mile Road in downtown Caledonia. The reason for the stop, sheriff’s officials said, was that the license plate indicated that the driver to whom the car was registered had a revoked license.

During the traffic stop, which took place in the parking lot of the Speedway gas station at the intersection, the deputy observed a 10-year-old family member of the operator seated in the vehicle.

According to a criminal complaint from the Racine County District Attorney’s Office:

The deputy detected a strong odor of intoxicants coming from the driver, identified as James J. Sele, 38, of Cudahy. The deputy also reported that Sele had slow and slurred speech, red and glassy eyes and looked tired.

Sele told the deputy that he had “two beers” in the preceding 2 1/2 hours. The deputy had Sele perform field sobriety tests and perform a breath test, which indicated a reading of .14 — nearly twice the legal limit of .08.

Sele was taken into custody and charged in court Friday with a felony count of operating while intoxicated, third offense, with penalty enhancers for having a passenger younger than 16 in the car at the time and for driving above the legal limit.

He also faces misdemeanor charges of operating a motor vehicle while his license was revoked and for bail jumping.

Sele was being held as of Friday afternoon at the Racine County Jail with bond set at $5,250. He is due in court for a preliminary hearing on Thursday, court records indicate.

The Sheriff’s Office reported that the 10-year-old child was released to a family member and is safe.

“I’m extremely disappointed that this adult would put not only my deputy and this community at risk, but most importantly the life of an innocent child,” Schmaling said in a news release regarding the incident. “I hope our judicial system makes a harsh example of him.

“There’s absolutely no excuse for not utilizing a safe ride with the plethora of options available today.”

The sheriff added that dangerous behavior such as that Sele is accused of “will not be tolerated here in Racine County.”

“My deputies and I will continue the hunt for those who insist on putting innocent lives at risk,” Schmaling said. “We are deeply committed to keeping our community’s roadways safe.”

During the time of the traffic stop and arrest, deputies comforted the child and provided a care package. The care packages are provided to the Sheriff’s Office by the nonprofit group Faith, Hope, and Love as part of its Duffels for Kids program. The duffels contain a stuffed animal, a blanket, books, coloring materials and other items.

“I’m extremely disappointed that this adult would put not only my deputy and this community at risk, but most importantly the life of an innocent child. I hope our judicial system makes a harsh example of him.” Sheriff Christopher Schmaling

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Assistant Managing Editor

Pete Wicklund is the local editor for The Journal Times.

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