Man accused of repeatedly hitting car to undergo evaluation

Saukville resident who claimed he was drunk pleads not guilty by reason of mental disease
Ozaukee Press staff

A 56-year-old Saukville man accused of repeatedly hitting the same vehicle as he drove through Port Washington last year, then claiming he was drunk, pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease Tuesday to a felony charge he faces.

Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Steve Cain ordered a psychiatric evaluation for Frederick J. Rothstein, who is charged with second-degree recklessly endangering safety.

The case dates to Monday, April 4, 2022, when, a woman said, she was driving from Saukville to Port Washington at 11:30 p.m. and saw Rothstein driving “all over” the two roundabouts in Saukville as he was heading east on Highway 33, according to a criminal complaint.

She said she lost sight of Rothstein, who was ahead of her, but then came upon his car parked in the left lane of Highway 33 and passed him.

The woman said she entered the City of Port Washington and had gone through the roundabout at Highway LL when she noticed Rothstein’s vehicle was coming up fast behind her.

She said that as she continued east on Grand Avenue, Rothstein hit the back of her car near South Tower Drive multiple times.

As she neared the traffic lights at Spring Street, Rothstein sideswiped her car, bounced off it and passed her, according to the complaint.

The woman said she had back pain and was taken to a hospital.

Officers quickly found Rothstein, who said he had a few drinks at his mother’s house, then drove to Port Washington because he wanted to walk along the bluff.

He said he knew he was driving too fast and admitted to hitting a car maybe three times but didn’t report the accident because he was drunk, the complaint states.

An officer reported smelling alcohol when talking with Rothstein, who could not complete a field sobriety test because he couldn’t maintain his balance.

Rothstein had also faced a charge of fourth-offense drunken driving, but that charge was dismissed Tuesday at the request of prosecutors because a blood test showed he did not have drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of his arrest, Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol said.

Also on Tuesday, Rothstein’s lawyer, public defender Rachel Boaz, said she would not challenge a finding that Rothstein is competent to stand trial. That means he understands the legal proceedings against him and is able to participate in his defense.

By entering a plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease, Rothstein is claiming he lacked the capacity to understand the wrongfulness of his actions or conform his conduct to the law.

Rothstein waived his right to a preliminary hearing and was bound over for trial.

Bail for Rothstein, who as of Tuesday was in custody, is set at $2,500. If he is released, he has been ordered to maintain absolute sobriety, not drive a vehicle without a license and not have contact with the victim.


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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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