DWI charge upped to felony for PC man found passed out with child in car

A 33-year-old Platte City man now faces a felony charge of driving while intoxicated from an incident in March of 2014 after the Platte County Prosecutor’s Office discovered more about the defendant’s criminal history.

Jesse Bennett

Charges against Jesse Bennett were dismissed on Tuesday, Feb. 3 and the new charges were filed against him that same day. Previously, prosecutors charged him with misdemeanor DWI, but that was upgraded to a felony due to his two prior convictions for DWI in Missouri — one in 2001 in Warrensburg and another in 2008 in Lee’s Summit. Witnesses found him on March 23, 2014 passed out in his car with a child inside along with a partially full bottle of vodka.

A misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a child remains in place, and Bennett faces up to eight years in prison if convicted on both counts.

According to a probable cause statement, Platte City Police Department officers responded to 1854 Gates Drive West just before 9 p.m. on March 23, 2014 to a report of a party unconscious at the wheel of a vehicle with a child inside. Upon arrival, they identified the driver as Bennett, who lists his home address as 1874 Gates Drive West.

Officers noticed that the suspect’s speech was slurred and eyes bloodshot and glassy.

The vehicle was still in drive, but the engine was not running. Bennett struggled to remove the keys and appeared disoriented. As he exited the vehicle, officers noticed a smell of intoxicants on his breath and noted that he needed to use the vehicle to maintain his balance.

Bennett failed a field sobriety test and was placed under arrest.

An officer recovered a partially full vodka bottle from the front passenger seat. Witnesses had removed the child from the vehicle prior to officers’ arrival but noted that the four-year-old had been sitting on Bennett’s lap in the driver’s seat when the car stopped outside their residence and remained stationary for a lengthy period of time.

A chemical breath test of Bennett about 40 minutes after the call came in determined his blood alcohol content to be .199, just short of 2½ times the legal limit.

Bennett was re-booked in the Platte County Detention Center on Feb. 3, and his $1,500 cash-only bond from the previous charge was transferred. He remains free on bond ahead of his appearance in Division IV Court on March 10.