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Hennepin County sheriff pleads guilty to misdemeanor DWI after last week's crash

As part of the plea agreement, two other misdemeanor DWI charges will be dismissed.

Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson is pleading guilty to misdemeanor DWI in connection with last week's crash near Alexandria.

Hutchinson entered the guilty plea Thursday, admitting in the document he had a BAC of 0.13% within two hours of the early morning accident on I-94. Hutchsinon suffered non-life threatening injuries in the one-vehicle rollover and was taken to the hospital. He'd been in Alexandria for the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association conference.

By pleading guilty to the misdemeanor, the two other DWI-related misdemeanor charges against him will be dismissed. Douglas County Attorney Chad Larson, in a statement, said under state law, he can only be convicted of one DWI offense in connection with the incident.

For the fourth charge, carrying a pistol under the influence of alcohol, the state agreed to a continuance for dismissal. That is also a misdemeanor.

The plea agreement comes with "a standard misdemeanor sentence" for any first-time misdemeanor DWI conviction in the county, Larson said. It includes:

  • A 90-day jail sentence, stayed
  • Up to two years probation to the court
  • A fine of $500, plus applicable surcharges
  • A chemical use assessment, with Hutchinson required to abide by the recommendations
  • No use of alcohol or non-prescribed controlled substances
  • Must submit to random testing

"This case came to my office like any other case does," Larson said. "It was processed like any other case is. The disposition is standard. I am pleased with the Sheriff’s decision to take responsibility for this offense in a swift manner."

Hutchinson, shortly after the crash became public, admitted to drinking before getting behind the wheel, calling it an "inexcusable decision." He was driving a county vehicle at the time.

On Thursday he put out a statement regarding his guilty plea:

"As Sheriff, I made the wellness of my staff a priority; however, I didn’t practice what I preached. This incident is a wake-up call for me. I understand the seriousness of my actions, for which I take full responsibility.

I am now enrolled in an outpatient treatment program to address my issues with alcohol and my overall health. This is the first step in the road toward recovery and regaining the trust of the people I work with and the residents of Hennepin County whom I serve.

I have returned to work and will focus on my duties as Sheriff."

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