Smashed: The toll of driving drunk in Minnesota

One face, one case: Steven Richard Kahl

  • Article by: JANE FRIEDMANN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 17, 2010 - 12:10 PM

Kahl's license was revoked in February 2002 for driving with a blood-alcohol content of 0.11 percent, but he was not convicted of drunken driving. He pleaded guilty to drunken driving in June 2002 and September 2003.

Steven Richard Kahl

Photo: Dakota County booking photo, Star Tribune

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Latest incident: About 6:48 p.m. Feb. 26, on Vermillion Street in Hastings.

Description: Steven Richard Kahl, 47, of Rosemount, led police on a 19-minute chase through Hastings and the surrounding area at more than 100 miles per hour, ignoring stop signs until losing control of his van and crashing, a criminal complaint said. Police began pursuing Kahl after they saw him driving erratically and exceeding the posted 35-mph speed limit. Kahl began to pull over when officers activated the squad car's emergency lights, but he then speeded up again. Additional squad cars joined the chase before Kahl's vehicle crashed through a fence and came to rest against a tree. Kahl tried to flee on foot, but was stopped when a police dog bit him. Kahl smelled of alcohol and his eyes were bloodshot and watery, according to the complaint. He registered a blood-alcohol content of 0.11 percent on a preliminary breath test. He was treated at a hospital for the bite wound.

Status: Kahl was convicted Monday of felony drunken driving and fleeing police, a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to six months in jail for the DWI. If he violates his four-year probation, he faces up to three years in prison. He must undergo chemical dependency treatment, abstain from alcohol, submit to random testing and pay $558 in fines and court fees.

History: Kahl's license was revoked in February 2002 for driving with a blood-alcohol content of 0.11 percent, but he was not convicted of drunken driving. He pleaded guilty to drunken driving in June 2002 and September 2003. He received two years of probation for each DWI conviction. Altogether, Kahl spent 80 days in jail and the workhouse and his license was revoked for two years and three months.

 

  • 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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