AUSTIN EDITION Week-old felony DWI hits state drivers
MINNEAPOLIS -- It is barely a week old, but authorities across the state are already using a new state drunken driving law that makes it a felony for recent repeat convictions.
At least seven people have been arrested under the new law since it took effect last Thursday.
George Edward Libby Jr., of Detroit Lakes, was one of the first to be charged with felony DWI after being arrested in Becker County on Saturday near WE Fest. Libby, 27, already had seven DWI convictions.
Under the new law that went into effect Aug. 1, drivers face three years in prison if they get a fourth or subsequent drunken-driving offense in 10 years. The length of actual jail time is up to a sentencing judge.
The new felony offense is a big change for a state where drunken driving has always been a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor, punishable by no more than a year in a county jail and a fine, no matter how many times the offense was repeated.
In Moorhead, authorities planned to charge a 30-year-old Moorhead man with felony DWI. The suspect allegedly assaulted a state trooper who was trying to arrest him late Tuesday night. The suspect has four previous DWI arrests and, the State Patrol said.
In Winona, Kevin Bruschwein, 40, of La Crescent, appeared in district court Monday to be charged with two first-degree felony DWI counts. He had three previous convictions within 10 years.
In Ramsey County, Cindy Holmen, 40, of St. Paul, was arrested early Saturday by the State Patrol and charged with felony DWI. She has three prior DWI incidents in the last 10 years, including one in Wisconsin and two in Minnesota, according to a criminal complaint.
In St. Louis County, Leslie Allen Talbott, 46, of Duluth, was charged with felony driving while impaired, test refusal, driving after cancellation and careless driving. Talbott has nine prior DWI convictions and two pending DWI charges from Dec. 8, 2001, and June 10, 2002, in addition to the latest charges, according to court records.
In Carlton County, Kevin Lawrence Locke, 44, of Cloquet, was charged with two counts of felony driving while impaired and driving without a valid license. He had three previous drunken-driving conditions dating from 1994 until this past January.
And in Washington County, Ricky Lenarz, 27, of Waukesha, Wis., was charged with charged with five counts, including felony driving while impaired, driving with a canceled license, open bottle and speeding. He has had three previous drunken-driving convictions, according to court records.