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ND law student to face DUI charges

Karen Langley | Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A second-year Notre Dame law student was arrested and charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated resulting in injury after a Feb. 19 accident in which a Notre Dame senior was injured, officials said.

Jon Schoenwetter, 30, was driving the car that hit Brian Cardile, 21, in front of 1631 East South Bend Avenue – the address of the Linebacker Lounge – that Sunday at 2:30 a.m., according to South Bend police reports, said Terry Lanning, a spokesperson for the South Bend Police Department.

The police officer called to the scene filed in his report of the incident that when he arrived, Cardile was alert and receiving attention from trained medical personnel, Lanning said. Cardile sustained head injuries and was taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend, where he stayed until Feb 22.

“[Schoenwetter] stepped forward and started speaking with the officer,” Lanning said. “They found reason to be suspicious that he had been drinking, and he admitted he had.”

The officer asked Schoenwetter if he would submit to a field sobriety test, but because of inclement weather, he instead took the second-year law student to the St. Joseph County Jail to administer the test, Lanning said.

Once there, according to the police report, Schoenwetter refused to submit to the chemical blood alcohol content (BAC) test that is admissible as evidence in court, Lanning said.

Jail records confirm Schoenwetter refused to submit to the chemical BAC test but document he was then administered a preliminary breath test (PBT), Deputy Dawn Burger of the County Jail said Feb. 24. The PBT, a handheld device, yields results that cannot be used in court but are still fairly accurate, she said. The legal limit in Indiana for operating a vehicle is a 0.08 BAC. Schoenwetter blew a 0.10 on the PBT, Burger said.

The police report says Schoenwetter then was arrested for OWI refusal – operating while intoxicated and refusing to take the chemical breath test – Lanning said, while Burger said the county jail report states he was charged with DUI (driving under the influence) resulting in injury. He was arrested at 3:47 a.m., Burger said.

Schoenwetter left the jail at 9:48 a.m. on a $500 bond, Burger said. He is scheduled to make his initial court appearance to face charges of DUI resulting in injury at 8 a.m. March 13 in the traffic and misdemeanor court of the St. Joseph County Courthouse, Burger said.

Catherine Wilton, media relations director for the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office, said Monday that Schoenwetter’s case is currently under review by a deputy prosecutor, meaning the office cannot comment on possible charges until the review is completed.

Under Indiana Code 9-30-5-4, a person who causes serious bodily injury to another person while operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated commits a felony crime.

Cardile did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication of this article. Schoenwetter referred The Observer to his attorney, George Horn, who did not return phone calls Monday seeking comment.