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Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson facing four charges in connection with crash

Hutchinson admitted to drinking and then driving a county-owned vehicle near Alexandria Wednesday morning before he was involved in the single-vehicle crash.

MINNEAPOLIS — The Douglas County Attorney's Office announced Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson will be charged with four offenses stemming from an early morning crash Wednesday.

According to the county attorney, Hutchinson is charged with driving while impaired, operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08 within two hours and carrying a pistol under the influence of alcohol.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension determined Hutchinson's blood alcohol content to be .13 after analyzing a urine sample. A Minnesota statute describing penalties for carrying a firearm while under the influence states if Hutchinson is convicted of the charges, he may be prohibited from carrying a pistol for one year.

Hutchinson admitted to drinking and then driving a county-owned vehicle near Alexandria Wednesday morning before he was involved in the single-vehicle crash. He released a statement later that day saying, "I made the inexcusable decision to drive after drinking alcohol and I am deeply sorry. I take full responsibility for my actions and am prepared to accept the consequences..." 

The rollover crash took place around 2:30 a.m., five miles east of Alexandria on I-94. Douglas County Sheriff's deputies say Hutchinson suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was taken by ambulance to Alomere Hospital in Alexandria. 

Douglas County Sheriff's deputies at the crash scene suspected Hutchinson was impaired, according to a news release. A state trooper obtained a warrant and collected a urine sample from Hutchinson to check for impairment, which is standard procedure.

Deputies say Hutchinson was the only person in the vehicle, "which is owned by Hennepin County," according to the release.

A statement by the Minnesota Sheriff's Association says Hutchinson was attending their 2021 winter conference at the Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria. 

Jeffrey Lunde, a Hennepin County District 1 Commissioner, credited Sheriff Hutchinson for taking responsibility in his apology.

"To me, that's the first step," Lunde said, adding that the board will let the legal process play out in Douglas County. "They'll resolve whatever the particulars of whatever happened, and what's appropriate. As a board, he's answerable to the voters like we are." 

Hennepin County Board Chair Commissioner Marion Greene also told KARE 11 in a statement that "it appears Sheriff Hutchinson is taking responsibility for his serious actions both professionally and personally and I wish him the best on his steps towards recovery." Commissioner Debbie Goettel, meanwhile, said she was "disappointed to hear the news" about the sheriff but "my impression is that Sheriff Hutchinson deeply regrets his decisions. I’m happy to hear that he is seeking help and will accept responsibility for his choices." 

Meghan Carter, the director of field operations for Mothers Against Drunk Driving Minnesota, said her organization was "absolutely shocked" when they learned the sheriff of the largest county in the state was being investigated for DUI.

"This is inexcusable. Thankfully, nobody else was injured," Carter said. "This is an opportunity for whomever, whether it's him, or the department... [to show] that they're taking this seriously, and saying we will not tolerate anyone getting behind the wheel after they've been drinking." 

Carter said this is also an opportunity for the public to take greater notice of the dangers of drinking and driving, particularly with the holidays approaching.

"We work with, and support, far too many individuals and far too many families that have to live with the ultimate consequences," Carter said, "of a decision and choice that's 100-percent preventable."

A spokesperson for Sheriff Hutchinson said a deputy chief and command staff will continue handling day-to-day operations in his absence. 

Here is the full statement from Sheriff Hutchinson:

"Early this morning, I was involved in single car crash in Douglas County near Alexandria, MN. I was taken to the hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. The Douglas County Sheriff's Office and the Minnesota State Patrol are investigating this crash as a DUI.

I made the inexcusable decision to drive after drinking alcohol and I am deeply sorry. As the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in Hennepin County, I am held to a higher standard. I regret the choice I made and apologize to the citizens I serve, the staff I work with, and the friends and family who support me.

I take full responsibility for my actions and am prepared to accept the consequences of my poor decision. I am relieved that no one else was injured in the crash. I will immediately address my personal issues surrounding alcohol and seek the help I need to continue to serve the people of Hennepin County."

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