Burrillville man charged with conspiracy after taking fall for unlicensed driver

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BURRILLVILLE – A Burrillville man who reportedly lied to police to cover for his girlfriend, an unlicensed driver, following an accident, is now facing charges.

Elwin Austin, 43, of Oakland, was arrested on Thursday, Nov. 17 and charged with obstructing an officer and conspiracy stemming from an accident on Chapel Street on Sunday, Oct. 23.

According to the arrest report, two witnesses to the incident visited the Burrillville Police station the day after the incident and told officers that the wrong person had been arrested. The witnesses told police that a woman with gray hair had been driving one of two vehicles involved in the crash, but said she didn’t have a license.

Instead, they said a man who claimed to be driving took the blame.

Austin was called to the station and reportedly told officers that he lied because the driver, 44-year-old Kristine Taylor of Pascoag, was his girlfriend.

It was one of two arrests that day in which unlicensed drivers failed in attempts to allude police.

Erin Duest, 46, of Pascoag was also arrested on November 17 for charges of driving under the influence and failure in duty to stop.

Police were reportedly called to an accident on East Avenue around 6 p.m. that day and told that one of the drivers was leaving the scene. The operator of a second car in the crash, a Burrillville woman, told officers a vehicle had crossed the yellow lines and struck the mirror of her car.

The woman said she followed the car Duest was driving as it ran a stop sign on Harrisville Main Street, and turned into Aston Court.

Officers located Duest in the back of the parking lot at the apartment complex with her car lights turned off. The report noted that a strong smell of alcohol was coming from the vehicle, but Duest refused to submit to sobriety tests, instead asking to be taken into custody.

Two additional witnesses told police Duest had entered the complex driving the wrong way down a one-lane driveway and nearly hit them.

Four empty nips of strawberry vodka were found during a search of the vehicle, along with a 375ml bottle of Tito’s vodka, which was mostly empty, according to police.

Duest reportedly admitted to drinking while she was out shopping in the vehicle, but denied that she’d been in an accident. In addition to the misdemeanor charges, she was cited for driving with an expired license, refusal to submit to a chemical test, failure in notice of accident, lack of proof of insurance and presence of unsealed containers.

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