Saratoga County

OnStar call leads to DWI arrest

Police: Driver said he was too drunk

When an emergency strikes, people with the OnStar alert system in their car can push a button to get help.

Argyle resident Gary P. Kietlinski, 53, allegedly pushed the button seeking to get a ride home at about 2 a.m. Sunday because he was too drunk to drive. The only problem was, according to police, Kietlinski was already on the road and behind the wheel when he made the call. And it led to his arrest.

“When he dials OnStar, it automatically does a three-way conversation [with police],” said Greenwich Police Chief George Bell. “He’s talking to everybody like there’s no tomorrow, telling them how inebriated he is.”

Kietlinski’s blood alcohol level was 0.19 percent — more than twice the legal limit, according to police.

Bell didn’t know where Kietlinski allegedly had been drinking but, according to police, after driving a short while Kietlinski stopped his pickup truck in the middle of Gray Avenue and turned on his four-way flashers. He then pushed the OnStar emergency mobile communications system, which is installed in many General Motors vehicles and connects people with a representative 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the event of a crash or other emergency. The system is also automatically activated in the event of an accident.

Kietlinski allegedly told the operator he was too intoxicated to drive. The conversation led police right to his truck. He was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and aggravated DWI.

OnStar spokesman Vijay Iyer could not say how many incidences there have been of people pushing the button when they were intoxicated.

The company receives about 21,000 to 22,000 instances per month of people pressing the emergency button. Of that, about one-third are calls from good Samaritans.

“They see somebody who may need help or see somebody on the side of the road,” Iyer said.

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