Rep. Mark Buesgens violated his probation from a drunken-driving guilty plea by drinking Wednesday night and then driving, the Jordan Republican said.
"I fully admit I should not have had that drink and I'm ready to abide by whatever consequences the court decides," said Buesgens, who pleaded guilty to a drunken-driving charge late last year.
A Scott County sheriff's deputy stopped Buesgens Wednesday night after a caller reported a possible drunken driver. On Thursday, Scott County Sheriff Kevin Studnicka said the report did not include what the driver, who turned out to be Buesgens, did to make the caller suspicious.
Studnicka said that when the deputy tracked down Buesgens' car, he saw a turn-signal violation and stopped him. Buesgens first told the deputy that he had not been drinking, but then said he had two mixed drinks with dinner, Studnicka said. In an interview Thursday, Buesgens said he'd had just one mixed drink.
The sheriff put out a news release about the incident, which Buesgens' lawyer, Ron Rosenbaum, said seemed unusual, since Buesgens was not arrested. Studnicka said he knew that the incident would generate a lot of calls. No report was filed by the deputy, who let Buesgens off with a warning.
A breath test found that Buesgens' blood alcohol was 0.008 percent, far below the legal limit of 0.08 percent for driving. Still, Buesgens acknowledged that consuming any alcohol violates his two-year probation.
Rosenbaum said the representative's probation officer told him that he is "not going to list it as a violation" because Buesgens called to confess the transgression and will seek alcohol treatment.
Buesgens, who worked for Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer last year, said he went through chemical dependency treatment after he was arrested in Wright County and charged with drunken driving late last year.
In September, officers found him and his car in a ditch. A preliminary breath test showed his blood alcohol content at 0.16 percent, twice the legal limit. He pleaded guilty to DWI and received a probation that required him to abstain from alcohol for two years.
On Wednesday night, he was at the St. Paul Grill near the Capitol with other lawmakers and he said he thought: "It was just a long day, sitting having a burger, you know, we were talking about the tobacco tax increase and, 'Gee, a drink would sound good.'" Buesgens would not identify the other lawmakers.
He said he plans to stay at his post in the Legislature.
Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers said in a statement Thursday that he had not spoken to Buesgens since the most recent violation.
"These allegations are serious. ... We will support and pray for him in his recovery effort, and have requested that he seek additional professional evaluation and follow all recommended action," Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said in the statement.
Buesgens also faces financial trouble. Late last year, the bank that holds his mortgage moved to foreclose on his Jordan home. The foreclosure was delayed, but Buesgens said Thursday that he still may lose his house.
Rachel E. Stassen-Berger • email@example.com