He was picked up after celebrating the end of the legislative session at a St. Paul bar. He is president of the Senate.
Just hours after a gathering at a Capitol haunt to celebrate the end of the legislative session, state Sen. James Metzen, DFL-South St. Paul, was arrested early Tuesday on suspicion of drunken driving near his home.
Metzen, 63, who is president of the Senate, said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller that he and his peers left the Capitol with a "mixture of euphoria and exhaustion" after a "long and stressful session."Unfortunately, the culmination of all this kept me from using my better judgment and resulted in my arrest," he said in the letter.
Metzen had the final word as the Senate adjourned for the year about midnight after Monday's final day.
"Let's go home," he told his colleagues. "Good work, all." He was arrested just over two hours later.
Metzen's attorney, Paul Rogosheske of South St. Paul, said the senator went to a favorite haunt of the Capitol crowd, Kelly Inn, just off Interstate Hwy. 94 near Rice Street.
Later, after his arrest, Metzen told police that he had had three or four drinks, Rogosheske said Tuesday night.
The senator knows that he was over the legal limit for driving, his attorney said. After the arrest, police kept him in the Dakota County jail briefly.
Metzen regrets his conduct, will accept responsibility and will move forward, the attorney said.
"He feels sorry and he's going to take accountability for his actions," Rogosheske said. "He'll do the right thing."
Neither Metzen nor Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, could be reached for comment Tuesday.
South St. Paul Police Chief Mike Messerich said that Metzen was released to his wife's custody and that his car was impounded.
Messerich said Metzen failed field sobriety tests and, according to an Intoxilyzer reading, had a 0.15 blood alcohol content, nearly twice the legal limit of 0.08. He said an officer stopped Metzen's car on Southview Boulevard just off Hwy. 52 at 2:13 a.m. Metzen was cooperative, the chief said. The case was referred to the city attorney for charges.
Metzen's letter said he will get a professional evaluation and follow recommendations. "I am truly sorry for my lapse in judgment," he said.
The charge would be a misdemeanor, and other than a couple of speeding tickets, this is the first serious driving offense for Metzen, Rogosheske said.
Just as so many others are forced to do after a drunken-driving arrest, Metzen will have to apply for a work permit to drive to and from work, the attorney said.
"He'll have to do just what everybody else does," Rogosheske said.
Metzen has drawn previous attention over alcohol. In 2004, KMSP-TV, Channel 9, aired a hidden-camera report on drinking at the Capitol. At one point, a DFL House member and lobbyists were captured on film drinking in Metzen's office. The report never showed Metzen with a drink.
In addition to serving as the Senate's presiding officer, he is chairman of the Senate Business, Industry and Jobs Committee.