MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A 29-year-old man is accused of driving under the influence after a group of men got a boat stuck trying to get it out of a South St. Paul lake, according to charges filed Wednesday in Dakota County Court.
William Robert Bernard Jr. was charged with two felony counts of first-degree driving while impaired and refusing a blood alcohol level test in connection with the incident, which was Sunday. The charges also relate to Bernard Jr. having prior alcohol-related offenses.
According to a complaint, South St. Paul police were called at about 7 p.m. Sunday to a DNR boat launch at Verderosa Avenue and Hardman Avenue on a report that three intoxicated men were trying to get a boat out of the water and their truck to haul the boat got stuck. A witness at the scene identified the driver of the truck as Bernard Jr. and said he was in his underwear.
Officers saw that the truck’s axle was stuck and hanging over the edge of the pavement. Authorities could smell alcohol on all three men, and none would admit to driving the truck, the complaint states.
Witnesses identified Bernard Jr. as the driver and he adamantly denied to police that he was driving. When asked how much he had to drink, Bernard Jr. said “I’ve been drinking but it’s irrelevant because I did not drive.”
Bernard Jr. refused to take field sobriety tests and was taken into custody. Officers later found keys to the truck in his hands. He refused another sobriety test at the police station and told police “I have no reason to take one,” the complaint states.
A look into Bernard Jr.’s criminal history shows misdemeanor DWI convictions in 2006, 2007, a gross misdemeanor DWI in 2008 and a felony DWI in 2010.
If convicted, Bernard Jr. faces up to 14 years in prison and $28,000 in fines.