Police in Minnesota say that a Dakota County mayor was impaired by alcohol when he lost control of his SUV and drove into a snowbank on the evening of Jan. 11. The Eagan resident was arrested at the scene of the accident and transported to the Dakota County Jail in Hastings for processing. He faces counts of driving while intoxicated in the third degree and driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher. Both charges are gross misdemeanors. A breath test allegedly revealed the mayor’s BAC to be .19%.
According to media reports, officers from the Eagan Police Department discovered the mayor’s SUV stuck in a snowbank still running on Dakota Path near Shadow Creek Curve at approximately 8 p.m. Officers said they smelled alcohol in the vehicle and that the driver seemed disorientated. He allegedly had bloodshot and glassy eyes and slurred his speech. The man was also said to have been unsteady on his feet when he exited his vehicle to perform a series of standardized field sobriety tests.
Officers say that the man refused to perform any further field sobriety exercises after he allegedly failed the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test. At that point, officers decided to take the local official into custody. They say that he was staggering and required assistance as he approached their patrol vehicle. The events unfolded just a few blocks from the mayor’s home.
The consequences of being convicted of drunk driving can be especially harsh when the defendant works in a position subject to public scrutiny. This is a point that criminal defense attorneys may make to prosecutors during plea negotiations. Experienced lawyers could also point out that no property was damaged, and no other road users were injured.