A Middletown woman accused of driving drunk with her young children in the car pleaded not guilty to charges on Friday.
Erin Hebel was arraigned in Newport District Court. Hebel was charged with driving under the influence of liquor and or drugs.
Police said Hebel was drunk with her 1- and 2-year-old daughters in the car.
An officer said a call from a concerned citizen on Feb. 22 led him to the corner of Aquidneck and Green End avenues. The officer said he saw Hebel driving her SUV and saw her swerving, running over a curb, clipping a snow bank and crossing a travel lane.
Police said they found a cup with brown liquid in the car.
Police said they also found an empty find of vodka, a full pint of vodka and prescription drugs in her purse.
Hebel's next court date is in three weeks.
In an effort to strengthen the state's DUI laws, Gabrielle Abbate of Mothers Against Drunk Driving said her group has joined with state police to make driving drunk with a child 13 years old or younger a felony.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee introduced the legislation on Wednesday.
If the bill is passed, those charged with drunken driving with a child would immediately have their license suspended. If found guilty, offenders could face five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
"It's about deterring behavior," Abbate said. "(Children) have no voice in the matter, they might not be aware of the situation and somebody's put them in danger."
23 Kenney Drive
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