Police: Memphis woman earns DUI for endangering fetus

Maria Guerra
Maria Guerra

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Memphis woman has been charged with DUI and child endangerment even though she did not have a child in the car with her, and her blood alcohol level was under the legal limit.

Maria Guerra was driving in a car by herself when she crashed on I-240 Sunday morning, just south of Walnut Grove. Her blood alcohol content was only half the legal limit, yet, she is charged with DUI-child endangerment with a child under 18 because she told an officer she is four months pregnant.

Memphis police say Guerra smelled of alcohol, was unsteady on her feet, and had bloodshot eyes.

Tennessee Code 39-13-214 recognizes a "Viable Fetus as a Victim". The state will "…include a viable fetus of a human being, when any such terms refers to the victim of any act made criminal…"

In Tennessee, a viable fetus is a minimum of 24 weeks old. That is 5.5 months. Guerra told an officer she is four months pregnant.

Though her blood alcohol level was .045, just more than half of the legal limit, police say the DUI charge is at the officer's discretion.

Dell Russell of Mothers Against Drunk Driving knows the dangers.

"Once you start drinking, you make bad decisions. That was obviously a horrible decision," said Dell Russell, Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Her husband died on his lawn when a drunk driver veered off the road. Russell says the mother-to-be took reckless to the next level.

"If you're going to drink while you're pregnant, that's horrible," said Russell. "That not only endangers you and your unborn child, but you and the innocent people on the street."

In addition to the DUI-child endangerment charge, Guerra is also charged with not having a driver's license, reckless driving, and public intoxication.

She is behind bars on a $5,000 bond. Guerra is due back in court January 9.

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