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Eugene Reuter charged with felony DWI for third time in 19 months

Hastings resident Eugene Reuter, 62, remains lodged in the Dakota County Jail after being charged with felony driving while impaired for the third time in 19 months.

Reuter made his first court appearance March 10 before Judge Robert Carolan, and bail was set at $40,000. Reuter's next court appearance is at 9 a.m. Monday, April 5.

"Unfortunately, Mr. Reuter is going to be the poster child for drunk driving," Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said. "The only answer is to lock him up."

According to the criminal complaint filed in the Dakota County Attorney's office, at approximately 2:20 a.m. March 7, Dakota County deputy Mike Fendrick was monitoring traffic on Highway 61 north of 180th Street in Marshan Township. He saw a vehicle, missing a front license plate, traveling south on Highway 61.

As Fendrick followed the vehicle, it crossed over the centerline on Highway 61 and then made a left turn onto 190th Street. The vehicle increased its speed and crossed the centerline as it approached Michael Avenue. Fendrick activated his squad car's red lights and video camera and stopped the vehicle. The driver was identified as Reuter, who indicated that he had no driver's license and that the police had impounded the plates for his vehicle two years ago.

As Fendrick talked to Reuter, he smelled alcohol on his breath. When Reuter got out of the vehicle, he swayed and seemed to lose his balance several times. He submitted to a preliminary breath test, which he failed.

Reuter was placed under arrest and transported to the Dakota County Jail. His blood alcohol content was measured at .21, more than twice the legal limit.

Reuter was previously convicted of felony drunk driving following incidents on Aug. 9 and Sept. 22, 2002.

"I find it very sad and disturbing that so many dunk drivers in our state are repeat offenders who continue to abuse alcohol and drive under the influence, endangering the citizens of our state," Backstrom said. "Drunk drivers pose significant public safety concern every day."

In 2002 in Minnesota, there were 13,503 repeat drunk-driving offenders, 1,703 of whom had at least three prior offenses at the time of their current drunk-driving arrest. In 2002, there were 239 people killed and 4,221 injured in car crashes involving alcohol in Minnesota.

Backstrom said he believes Reuter is the first person in Minnesota to have been charged with three felony drunk-driving offenses since the felony law went into effect in August 2002. Reuter was the first Hastings resident to be charged with the felony charge after the law became effective.

If convicted of this offense, Reuter faces a prison term of 66 months under Minnesota sentencing guidelines.