BENNINGTON -- A woman is facing charges of allegedly driving under the influence of a stimulant with one of her children in the car while the other two were left in a hotel unattended.
Kathy A. Hastings, of Bennington, pleaded not guilty Monday in Vermont Superior Court to a first offense of driving under the influence of a drug, and three counts of reckless endangerment. She was released on the condition she not drive or possesses any controlled substances without a valid prescription.
According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Cpl. Andy Hunt, on Aug. 10 at 9:38 p.m. he was dispatched to Stewart's Shop on Main Street for a report of a female acting strangely who had a child in her vehicle. When Hunt arrived he saw the vehicle at the gas pumps and watched it pull onto Main Street while the driver appeared to go through a series of full body spasms, one severe enough to put part of her upper body out the driver's side window. He was about to initiate a traffic stop when the vehicle looped around back into the Stewart's parking lot. The driver, Hastings, got out and went inside accompanied by a child.
Hunt said Hastings was fidgeting while at the register and agreed to speak to Hunt outside. She said she had taken Suboxone, a drug prescribed to treat opiate addiction, but had taken nothing else. Hunt said she was not able to hold still during the conversation and continued to spasm and fidget. She said this was not normal behavior for her.
She gave a breath sample that showed she had not consumed any alcohol, but refused to supply a blood sample citing a fear of needles. Hunt, a certified drug recognition expert, conducted a series of tests and determined Hastings was under the influence of "CNS Stimulant and Narcotic Analgesic Drugs."
Hunt learned from Hastings that she had left two of her children at a local motel. According to her they were being watched by three people. Police went to the motel and found the children, ages 11 and 4, alone. The oldest child said his mother had left to go to the store and had not responded to his text messages. He said his mother told him someone would be coming to watch them, but no one ever came.
Police spoke to two of the people Hastings mentioned and they said no one asked them to watch children. The one other person said she had been asked to check on them, which she did, but did not realize Hastings had been gone for as long as she had. Hastings was not able to tell police the last names of these three people.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.