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Nanny sentenced for DUII with child passengers

Feb 13, 2014


By AIMEE GREEN
Of the The Oregonian

PORTLAND — A nanny whose blood alcohol level was more than four times the legal limit when she picked four children up from school — then crashed into a Northeast Portland cyclist moments later — has been sentenced to two days in jail and three years of supervision.

The cyclist was not seriously hurt, but Jennifer Marie Baker was ordered to pay more than $1,000 for one traumatized child's counseling costs.

According to a probable cause affidavit, the children told Portland police that after Baker picked them up on the afternoon of Oct. 14, she started crying, closed her eyes and then pulled over to sleep for a while. She awoke and started to drive very fast, prompting the children — ages 6 to 9 — to yell for her to slow down.

But the children said Baker didn't. After she knocked a cyclist to the ground, they screamed at her to let them out of the car. She did a few blocks later.

A police officer found Baker, who was “unresponsive” in the driver's seat. The car's engine was still running, its doors were flung open and the children were on the sidewalk crying.

An open bottle of liquor was in the trunk, which also was open.

When medics arrived, Baker tried to hit and kick them, according to the affidavit. Her blood alcohol level was .35 percent, more than quadruple the legal limit for driving of .08 percent.

Baker pleaded guilty to charges of driving under the influence of intoxicants, reckless endangering another person and reckless driving. She was allowed to enter the DUII Intensive Supervision Program, which is designed to help repeat intoxicated drivers stay sober and off the roads.

It was not Baker's first episode of drunken driving. On Christmas Day 2011, she was arrested for DUII and allowed to enter a diversion program for first-time offenders. She also was cited for DUII in Nevada that same year, and records indicate she is still wanted on that charge.

At Wednesday's sentencing hearing, Multnomah County Circuit Judge David Rees asked Baker if she wanted to say anything.

“Just thankful that I'm given this opportunity for the DISP program,” Baker said.

“Sounds like you need it,” Rees responded. “This program will hold you accountable. You'll have to do treatment. You'll have to do UA's (urine screenings). You'll have to tell people the truth or it won't work out.”

The judge said Baker — who is living with her parents in Beaverton — must wear an alcohol-monitoring bracelet for at least three months. She must not drive for three years, and she must comply with the various requirements of DISP throughout that time.

She also won't be allowed to care for children, and that includes babysitting for relatives or working at a day-care center.

If Baker flunks out of the program, she could be sentenced to up to four years in jail.

After her sentencing hearing, Baker's brother said his sister feels terrible about the events of Oct. 14, but he will be there to help her stay sober.

“It's a disease — she knows it, I know it,” said Nathan Baker, noting that he previously struggled with addiction. “I'm not going to let her do it alone.”

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