Report: DWI suspect was texting while driving

A woman sends text messages on her Blackberry phone.
AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Authorities say a DWI suspect arrested in northern Minnesota was texting while driving.

The Cass County sheriff's office says the 25-year-old man was driving on the wrong side of Minnesota Highway 371 near Walker early Sunday morning.

A sheriff's deputy tried to pull him over, but the driver sped away. He eventually was pulled over and arrested on suspicion of drinking and driving.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says during the arrest, the driver said he'd drifted into the wrong lane because he was text-messaging behind the wheel.

Authorities are unsure if they will charge the man under a new law, which went into effect two days ago, that bans texting, e-mailing or accessing the Internet while behind the wheel.

Nathan Bowie with the Department of Public Safety says that's because the deputy would have to see the texting before the suspect could be charged with that offense.

"It's a primary offense, which means that a motorist can be pulled over directly for texting," said Bowie. "So an officer observes someone on a cellphone or a Blackberry, etc., they can directly pull over that motorist."

Bowie says the penalty for texting while driving is about $300.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

Before you keep reading ...

MPR News is made by Members. Gifts from individuals fuel the programs that you and your neighbors rely on. Donate today to power news, analysis, and community conversations for all.