Smashed: The toll of driving drunk in Minnesota

One case, one face: Daniel Robert Winkelhake

  • Article by: JANE FRIEDMANN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 28, 2010 - 3:52 PM

Name: Daniel Robert Winkelhake, 23, Burnsville

Latest incident: About 6 p.m. on Jan. 8 at the intersection of Cliff and Dodd Rds., Eagan.

Description: A woman suffered minor injuries and was pinned in her car after a vehicle driven by Winkelhake failed to stop and skidded into the intersection, according to a criminal complaint filed in district court. After arriving at the scene, police officers observed signs that Winkelhake seemed intoxicated. He smelled of alcohol, his eyes were bloodshot and his speech was slurred. When asked if he had been drinking, Winkelhake told officers that he had consumed two Vodka-Mountain Dew cocktails, each containing about two shots of vodka. He failed a preliminary breath test with results well above the legal limit of 0.08 percent, but Winkelhake was not asked to perform a field sobriety test because he was being treated by medics. Eagan Fire and Rescue extricated the woman from her vehicle. She was treated at a hospital and released.

Status: Winkelhake was released from Dakota County jail after paying $1,000 bail and agreeing not to use alcohol while his case is pending. No trial date has been set. Because of three prior alcohol-related convictions, Winkelhake was charged with two counts of felony DWI and faces a mandatory sentence of up to seven years in prison if convicted. He also was charged with criminal vehicle operation, a gross misdemeanor that calls for up to a year in jail.

History: Winkelhake twice pleaded guilty to underage drinking in Scott County. In 2006, he was convicted of fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance, according to the Savage Pacer newspaper. In 2007, he pleaded guilty to drunken driving on charges related to two separate incidents, as well as fleeing arrest in one of the cases. He spent 58 days in jail and spent three years on probation. He also paid fines totaling $1,179. His driver's license was revoked three times, for a total of three years and two months, since his first alcohol-related conviction in 2006.

HISTORY:

OCT. 1, 2005

Arrested for underage consumption. Pleaded guilty. Fined $100.

DEC. 27, 2005

Arrested for underage consumption. Pleaded guilty. Fined $180.

OCT. 28, 2006

Found guilty of fifth-degree possession of a controlled susbstance.

Received three years of probation, four days in jail, 30 hours of community service. Was ordered to abstain from alcohol, submit to random alcohol testing and pay $425.

MARCH 25, 2007

Arrested and charged with two counts of gross-misdemeanor DWI.

Pleaded guilty. Received 29 days in jail, three years of probation and was ordered to abstain from alcohol, undergo a chemical dependency evaluation, participate in the Safe Streets First program, submit to random alcohol testing and pay $502. License revoked on April 1.

AUG. 20, 2007

Arrested and charged with misdemeanor DWI and misdemeanor fleeing police. Pleaded guilty. Received 29 days in jail, three years of probation, and was ordered to abstain from alcohol, undergo a chemical dependency evaluation, participate in the Safe Streets First program, submit to random alcohol testing and pay $502. License revoked on Aug. 27. The sentence was served concurrently with that of the March 25, 2007, incident.

JAN. 8, 2010

Was involved in a car accident. Was arrested and charged with two felony DWI counts and one count of criminal vehicular operation, a gross misdemeanor.

Winkelhake has met bail and is awaiting a March hearing. He faces a three- to seven-year sentence and/or a $4,200-$14,000 fine for each DWI conviction and up to a one-year sentence and/or a $900-$3,000 fine for criminal vehicular operation.

  • about this series

  • In Minnesota, drunken drivers who kill someone with their car sometimes get less time behind bars than nonviolent offenders. Public safety advocates say it's part of a culture of forgiveness surrounding drunken driving, a social problem that killed 893 people on Minnesota roads in the past five years. Read the Star Tribune's in-depth look at the scourge of drunken driving, the victims it claims and the public safety questions it raises.

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