Smashed: The toll of driving drunk in Minnesota

One face, one case: Michael Patrick Skubitz

  • Article by: JANE FRIEDMANN
  • Updated: March 3, 2010 - 5:20 PM

Booking photo for Michael Patrick Skubitz, 28, Oak Grove

Latest incident: About 10 p.m. on Nov. 8, on County Road 348 in Itasca County north of Grand Rapids.

Description: Sixteen months after getting out of jail for his third drunken driving conviction, Skubitz lost control of his truck after a night of drinking and broadsided two trees, killing the friend riding next to him, according to the criminal complaint.

Jon Michael Blaskey, 27, of Anoka, bled to death after being thrown from his seat, records show. Blaskey left behind a 4-year-old daughter.

Skubitz told police he drank five or six beers and some hard alcohol at his brother-in-law's house and at a resort bar after he and Blaskey spent the day deer hunting. From tracks in the snow, police determined that Skubitz drove erratically after leaving the bar and lost control after missing a left-hand turn at a gravel driveway.

Skubitz kicked his door open and walked up the street, leaving Blaskey pinned behind the driver's seat, witnesses said. Hospital tests showed Skubitz had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.20, more than twice the legal limit.

Status: The Associated Press reported that Skubitz pleaded guilty Monday to criminal vehicular homicide before Itasca County District Judge John Hawkinson. The county attorney’s office is seeking a nine-year, eight-month prison term. Sentencing is set for May 24.

If convicted of murder, he faces as much as 40 years in prison. He was released after posting a $200,000 bond. His driver's license was cancelled on Dec. 28.

History: He had two underage alcohol-related convictions and he was convicted of drunken driving in 2003, 2004 and 2008. He served 37 days in jail and the workhouse and spent 80 hours on an adult work crew. His license was revoked for two years. Skubitz was not allowed to drink under conditions set for getting his driver's license back in July 2008.

JANE FRIEDMANN

  • 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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