Onalaska man charged with eighth-offense OWI after fiery crash in Farmington

TOWN OF FARMINGTON, Wis. (WKBT) — A 52-year-old Onalaska man was charged Monday with his eighth offense of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence in connection with a fiery, one-vehicle crash.

Robert Christianson


Robert M. Christianson crashed Friday at County Hwys. D and DD in the Town of Farmington, according to the criminal complaint presented in La Crosse County Circuit Court.

La Crosse County sheriff’s deputies and a Wisconsin State Patrol trooper were dispatched shortly before 11 p.m. after a caller reported that a vehicle was on fire, and the driver was trying to retrieve his phone from the vehicle.

When a trooper arrived and asked the driver if he had been drinking, the driver “responded that was a dumb question,” according to the complaint. The driver said he did not remember what happened and “admitted he probably would not have ended up in the cornfield had he not been drinking.”

A 2005 Chevrolet Trailblazer was on fire about 25 feet off of the Hwy. D, and firefighters were on the scene, according to the complaint, which said Christianson refused to undergo sobriety tests.

The trooper asked dispatch to check Christianson’s driving record and was told he had seven OWI convictions, the complaint says, adding that the trooper then arrested him. Another trooper said Christianson told him he had consumed a six pack of beer.

The trooper took him to a hospital to draw blood for an alcohol concentration test and to check his ribs because he said they hurt.

At the hospital, Christianson told the trooper repeatedly that he doesn’t normally drink, and he had “had been good for about ten years,” the complaint says.

After Christianson’s treatment, a trooper took him to the La Crosse County Jail.

The eighth-offense OWI is a felony punishable, upon conviction, with a fine of not more than $25,000, or a prison term of not more than 12 years and six months. Christianson also was charged with operating a vehicle with a prohibited alcohol concentration in a seventh, eighth or ninth incident, an offense that carries a similar penalty.

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