MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson entered a guilty plea on Thursday to a fourth-degree DWI in connection to a rollover crash in central Minnesota in the early morning of Dec. 8.
Hutchinson, 41, faced four misdemeanor counts: fourth-degree DWI, operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08 within two hours, and carrying a pistol under the influence of alcohol.
Hutchinson pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle under the influence, but after his guilty plea, the remaining charges will be dismissed as under Minnesota law he can only be convicted of one DWI offense related to an incident.
"As Sheriff, I made the wellness of my staff a priority; however, I didn't practice what I preached," Hutchinson said after he made the plea. "This incident is a wake-up call for me. I understand the seriousness of my actions, for which I take full responsibility."
He added that he is enrolled in an outpatient treatment program to address his overall health and relationship to alcohol. "This is the first step in the road toward recovery and regaining the trust of the people I work with and the residents of Hennepin County whom I serve," he said.
Also on Thursday, newly-released photos purport to show the state of the squad vehicle wrecked in the crash.
According to Hutchinson's attorney, a state trooper told the sheriff that he is "lucky to be alive" after the crash. Hutchinson was the only person in the vehicle, a Ford Explorer owned by Hennepin County. Investigators later found that Hutchinson's blood alcohol level was at .13, as determined by a urine sample.
On Thursday morning, Twitter user Rebecca Brannon shared photos she took of the squad car damaged in the incident. The license plate matches the description of the 2021 Ford Explorer involved in the crash, according to investigators.
"The squad is a harrowing sight and shows the severity of drinking and driving. His recklessness could have killed himself or other innocent drivers," Brannon tweeted.
Following the crash, Hutchinson released a statement in which he admitted to drinking and driving.
"I made the inexcusable decision to drive after drinking alcohol and I am deeply sorry," he wrote. "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."
WCCO earlier reached out to the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office to see what consequences Hutchinson could face internally. No one returned the call.
The standard misdemeanor sentence calls for 90 days in jail, up to two years probation, and a $500 fine, and a chemical-use assessment.
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