Public Safety

DNR: Man repeatedly ate grass to avoid boating while intoxicated charge

NORTH LIBERTY — A West Branch man is accused of trying to get out of a charge of boating while intoxicated by repeatedly eating grass and dirt.

An Iowa Department of Natural Resources officer stopped a boat piloted by Christopher W. McTaggart, 20, at 4:22 p.m. Thursday for driving too fast in the no-wake zone near Mehaffey Bridge, according to DNR criminal complaints. Authorities said several people on the boat were intoxicated, there were empty alcohol containers and McTaggart admitted to drinking.

Authorities said McTaggart was ordered not to put anything in his mouth before breath testing. Despite multiple warnings, he put ice cubes in his mouth.

Once his boat was towed ashore, McTaggart put dirt and grass in his mouth, the DNR said. After being told to spit out the grass and dirt, McTaggart put grass in his mouth two more times, authorities said.

Despite his efforts, a preliminary breath test showed McTaggart’s blood alcohol content to be 0.188 percent, more than twice the legal limit to operate a vehicle in Iowa.

He also showed signs of “significant impairment” during field sobriety tests, and subsequent testing showed his blood alcohol content to be 0.154 percent, according to criminal complaints.

McTaggart faces charges of operating a boat while intoxicated, a serious misdemeanor; and interference with official acts, a simple misdemeanor.

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