Hennepin County sheriff charged with four misdemeanor drunken-driving offenses

10December 2021

Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson was charged with four misdemeanor drunken driving offenses Friday after crashing his SUV near Alexandria.

His blood alcohol content was 0.13%, higher than the state legal limit of 0.08%. He crashed his vehicle at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday on Interstate 94 after attending a state sheriffs’ conference.

At the direction of the Douglas County attorney, the Minnesota State Patrol served Hutchinson a summons at Alomere Hospital in Alexandria on Friday, where he is recovering from accident injuries. He is charged with fourth-degree driving while impaired, operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% within two hours and carrying a pistol under the influence of alcohol.

Hutchinson’s blood alcohol content was determined by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension analysis of the urine sample after a state trooper obtained a warrant. The trooper chose a urine test over a blood test, which many lawyers and law enforcement professionals believe is less accurate. He wasn’t administered a preliminary breath test at the scene to measure intoxication.

Hutchinson’s next legal steps are unclear. The misdemeanor charges could result in a fine only.

The State Patrol said in a news release Friday that they were unable to provide additional information or comment further due to the ongoing investigation.

Fred Bruno, Hutchinson’s attorney, wasn’t available for comment Friday night. He previously told the Star Tribune the sheriff was doing “not too bad, not too good” physically. He suffered three broken ribs and head and hip injuries.

Hutchinson had attended the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association winter conference Tuesday at the Arrowwood Resort. In a statement shortly after the accident, he said he made the “inexcusable decision to drive after drinking alcohol.”

Bruno said the State Patrol told Hutchinson he was lucky to be alive after rolling his SUV.

Douglas County Attorney Chad Larson had said Thursday that he wouldn’t make a charging decision until early next week. Bruno said he expected Hutchinson’s tests results would show he was too intoxicated to drive under state law. He declined to say where the sheriff was drinking before the accident.

In his statement, Hutchinson said he would immediately address his personal issues surrounding alcohol and seek help to continue to serve the people of Hennepin County.

Hutchinson, as an elected official, is not subject to any disciplinary action by the county in the same manner as a deputy or county employee.

Hutchinson, 41, is in his first term as sheriff. He defeated incumbent Richard Stanek in 2018 by more than 2,300 votes out of 525,000 cast. Since taking office, he has largely gained community support for his policy changes on immigrants and the treatment of jail inmates.

Bruno had said that “this was a single transgression in a career that has been long and unblemished.”

The four-day sheriffs’ conference started Sunday but Hutchinson didn’t arrive until Tuesday. The conference included officer training, speakers and an awards ceremony. Social hours are held each night.

There were several hospitality suites. A band was playing the night Hutchinson attended the conference.

Repeated efforts to reach Hutchinson were unsuccessful.

This post was originally published on this site

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