Police Chief Chad Gulbranson said he was surprised to learn that the motorist who led one of his officers on a high-speed chase on a central Minnesota highway had had too much to drink.
"Usually drunks don't go that fast," the Osakis chief said Thursday.
Unlicensed and allegedly intoxicated, Pedro E. Reyes Cartagena fled police at 128 mph, with a 14-year-old boy in the car, becoming one of the most noteworthy of the 1,400 motorists caught in the latest statewide crackdown on impaired driving.
That pursuit was one of the most troubling incidents highlighted by the state Department of Public Safety (DPS) from a 17-day campaign that ended Sept. 2.
The joint crackdown by more than 300 agencies snagged 1,369 motorists for drunken driving, one less than the last year's campaign over the same time period, the DPS said.
The State Patrol rang up 133 impairment stops in the Twin Cities area, followed by police in St. Paul (64) and Fridley (30). Eleven drivers who were pulled over were found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.30 percent or higher, nearly four times the legal limit.
Osakis, with a population 1,700, had two of the most notable arrests during the crackdown.
On Aug. 19, Reyes Cartagena, 32, of nearby Long Prairie, was at a birthday party noisy enough that "we actually talked to [the revelers] that night about being too loud," Gulbranson said.
Later that night, Reyes Cartagena's driving caught an officer's attention at a stop sign, and the chase began.
Gulbranson is confident Reyes Cartagena was going at least 130 mph on Hwy. 27 because "128 is all the faster our squad car can go, and my officer wasn't catching up to him.
"I was actually 3 miles behind in my pickup … so I didn't get in on any of the fun."
The 32-year-old motorist eventually stopped, and a preliminary breath test measured his blood alcohol content at 0.12 percent, above the legal limit for driving in Minnesota. The DPS said Reyes Cartagena has never had a driver's license in Minnesota.
On Aug. 29, Osakis police came upon an Alexandria man with a blood alcohol content of 0.30 percent, according to charges. Chad J. Burkey, 41, was sitting in his SUV parked outside someone else's home about 10:35 p.m., police said. He seemed intoxicated, and the police officer said he spotted an open container of alcohol in the console and a set of keys near the booze.
Four times the limit
One driver caught in Andover topped out at 0.36 percent, more than four times the legal driving limit of 0.08 percent, and the highest level during the crackdown, DPS officials said.
On Aug. 28, 43-year-old Deanna L. Hlavinka showed up drunk about 7:20 p.m. at a pizza shop on Crosstown Boulevard, according to charges. She allegedly hit a pickup truck while trying to get away in her SUV, but that driver jumped out and grabbed her keys from the ignition.
Hlavinka told authorities she had been drinking at a bar down the street, said sheriff's Lt. Dan Douglas.
If found guilty, this would be Hlavinka's third conviction in Minnesota for drunken driving in the past 10 years.
Defense attorneys in the Osakis cases declined to comment Thursday about the charges. A message was left with the attorney for the driver in the Andover case.
By the numbers
The enhanced enforcement efforts were coordinated through the DPS with officers' overtime paid with federal money received from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Starting Monday, a similar enforcement campaign — widely known as Click it or Ticket — begins. Deputies, police officers and troopers will be vigilant about seat belt use from Sept. 17 to 29.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482