Smashed: The toll of driving drunk in Minnesota

One face, one case: Dianne L. Darby

  • Article by: JANE FRIEDMANN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 7, 2010 - 1:07 PM

Darby was convicted of drunken driving in 1998, 2001 and 2004 and of driving after license cancellation in 2006 and 2007.

Dianne Lynn Darby

Photo: Hennepin County Sheriff, Star Tribune

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Latest incident: About 3 p.m. on Feb. 15, Market Street and Louisiana Avenue in Golden Valley.

Description: Although she hasn't had a valid driver's license since 2000, Darby was caught driving after a witness complained that she nearly collided with several other vehicles, according to the criminal complaint. Darby was pulled over after police followed her SUV and saw her stop at a green light. Police also observed her weaving in and out of her lane.

She repeatedly interrupted an officer who was attempting to administer a field sobriety test. At one point she said, "I can't be out here driving." She also asked the officer if he was "just going to arrest" her, and expressed fears that "You're gonna kill me," according to the complaint. A breath test showed a blood-alcohol content level of 0.26 percent, more than three times the legal limit.

Darby was handcuffed during booking after acting unpredictably and swearing "at the top of her lungs," the complaint said.

Status: Darby was charged with second-degree drunken driving and driving without a license. She posted a $12,000 bond and agreed to electronic alcohol-monitoring while awaiting trial. She faces up to one year in prison if convicted.

History: Darby was convicted of drunken driving in 1998, 2001 and 2004 and of driving after license cancellation in 2006 and 2007. In total, Darby spent 44 days in jail, paid $741 in fines and court fees and performed 10 days of community service for the five convictions. She has been on probation continuously since January 2001.


  • 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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