Hennepin County sheriff pleads guilty to DWI after interstate crash

A man sits in a car.
Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson sits in his squad car in Robinsdale, Minn., in January 2020.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2020

Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson pleaded guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor charge of driving with blood alcohol level of .08 percent.

The sheriff was driving on Interstate 94 near Alexandria, Minn., on Dec. 8 when his government-owned SUV rolled over. Hutchinson was hospitalized for several days with unspecified injuries.

Hutchinson said at the time he had been drinking before the wreck. The court document says his blood alcohol level was 0.13 percent.

He was originally charged with four counts of misdemeanor DWI offenses, including driving under the influence while carrying a firearm.

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Douglas County Attorney Chad Larson said in a statement that the Hennepin County sheriff was not treated differently than other defendants and called the result “standard.” Larson added that he “was pleased with the sheriff’s decision to take responsibility for this offense in a swift manner.”

Under the plea agreement with prosecutors, Hutchinson would not go to jail, but serve up to two years probation and a pay a $500 fine. The sheriff still could face a review for potential licensing sanctions by the Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training Board.

In a statement following his plea, Hutchinson said he is back at work while participating in outpatient treatment.

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