Dakota County Judge Michael Sovis allegedly ran into five parked cars, had BAL of 0.28
Sovis reportedly has no prior DWIs on his record, but he made his first one memorable.
Longtime Dakota County Judge Michael Sovis was over three times the legal limit when he was arrested for driving drunk just around 8 p.m. Christmas Eve evening.
Officers responding to reports of a black Lexus SUV running into parked cars on the 1200 block of St. Clair Avenue in St. Paul found the vehicle stuck in a snow bank. Five nearby vehicles had visible damage, apparently from Sovis running into them. Sovis was behind the wheel of the SUV with his wife riding as passenger.
Officers smelled booze on Sovis' breath and asked him to take a field sobriety test. The criminal complaint says Sovis "was very unsteady on his feet and needed support from another officer in order to not fall and hit the ground. Additional field sobriety tests were not conducted based on concerns for defendant's physical safety."
Judge Sovis was arrested and taken to Ramsey County Jail, where a breath test pegged his blood-alcohol level at 0.28. According to the complaint, Sovis told officers he had six vodka drinks.
Sovis, first appointed to the bench in 1988 by Governor Rudy Perpich and since elected four times, has been charged with gross misdemeanor DWI.
The Pioneer Press provides some background about Sovis' career as a judge, including one bizarre DWI-related ruling he issued in the mid-'90s:
In 1995, Sovis ruled that if a drunken driver loses his driver's license under the state's implied-consent law, he couldn't also be punished by a criminal prosecution. He made the ruling in dismissing charges against a Burnsville man. The defendant's attorney said if the ruling stood, "every single DWI in the state of Minnesota would have to be dismissed."
His decision was reversed by the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which ruled that taking away the license of a drunken driver and pressing charges did not constitute double jeopardy.
In 2008, the state Board on Judicial Standards reprimanded Sovis for breaking rules on impartiality. He ordered the arrest of a man involved in a dispute with a family friend and had him jailed without following proper procedure, it found.
The board also disciplined Sovis on two prior occasions for improperly dismissing citations.
Sovis' attorney, David Ayers, told the Star Tribune : "The only comment that I would have on Judge Sovis' behalf is that Judge Sovis takes this matter very seriously."
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