HENNEPIN COUNTY, MN — Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson was hit with a slew of charges after his DWI rollover crash Dec. 8 near Alexandria, but he avoided one charge that could have cost him his license.
Drivers can have their licenses revoked for six months if they are caught driving at “extreme” speeds over 100 mph, under Minnesota law. Crash reports show Hutchinson was driving faster than 125 mph seconds before he crashed and rolled his county-owned SUV.
But Hutchinson was never charged with driving at an “extreme” speed because Douglas County Attorney Chad Larson didn’t know how fast the sheriff was driving before he pleaded guilty less than two weeks after the crash, FOX 9 reports.
Hutchinson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor DWI charge and was sentenced to serve two years on probation and pay $610 in fees and fines.
The sheriff will avoid a 90-day jail sentence if he does not violate the terms of his probation, which include a chemical assessment, no driver's license violations, random substance testing and no alcohol use.
Douglas County prosecutors agreed to a continuance on a misdemeanor charge against Hutchinson for carrying a revolver while under the influence.
A trove of records released Thursday by the Minnesota State Patrol indicated there was also an AR-15 rifle and a handgun in Hutchinson’s SUV.
The documents revealed Hutchinson was driving at 126.2 mph less than four seconds before the hit a cable median barrier on Interstate 94 around 2:30 a.m. Dec. 8 near Alexandria.
Crash reports indicate he was driving at 78.5 mph at the moment of impact. He was not wearing a seat belt as the SUV rolled several times in the median, according to the investigative files.
Hutchinson's blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.134 several hours after the crash, according to a report from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
The sheriff told witnesses at the scene of the crash that someone else was driving the SUV when it crashed and that he had called for a taxi, police said.
An Alexandria police detective spoke to a cab driver who said he was called around 1:20 a.m. Dec. 8 by a man who asked if any bars were still open.
The driver said the call came from the Arrowwood Resort, where Hutchinson had been attending a conference with the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association, according to police reports.
Police later found records of the call on Hutchinson’s phone.
Hutchinson initially told reporters he decided to drive back to Hennepin County because he couldn’t sleep, FOX 9 reports.
Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan on Thursday joined a growing chorus of officials calling for Hutchinson to resign. The sheriff made it clear he will run for re-election in November after a majority of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners called for him to step aside.
The Hennepin County board does not have authority to remove Hutchinson from the sheriff's office, as it is an independently elected agency, but he could face a review and sanctions from the Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, MPR News reported.