An intoxicated driver with at least a dozen drunken-driving convictions on his record led several squad cars on a 13-mile freeway chase before he was caught outside his Bloomington home, authorities said Monday.
Douglas J. McCready, 40, had a blood alcohol content of 0.24 percent — three times the legal limit for driving in Minnesota — when he was arrested Sunday after refusing to pull over on Interstate 35W between north suburban Arden Hills and Bloomington. McCready has at least 12 drunken-driving convictions over the past 20 years, with several that involved levels of drunkenness near or exceeding Sunday’s level, according to court records.
“Thirteen DWIs in a lifetime is an extremely high and unusual number,” said Tiffani Schweigart, State Patrol spokeswoman. ”It’s probably sheer luck that he hasn’t been involved in a fatal crash. This driver’s habitual behavior puts his own life and others lives at risk.”
The State Patrol is thanking a 911 caller for spotting McCready’s full-size pickup truck about 7:25 p.m. as it was “swerving all over the road” at I-35 and I-694 in Arden Hills, Schweigart said. McCready, who served two years of a four-year prison sentence, is on supervised release in connection with a 2010 drunken-driving conviction in Ramsey County.
While McCready has a history of driving after losing his license privileges, he had a valid driver’s license at the time of Sunday’s incident, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS).
McCready’s 2010 felony conviction came from an offense in May 2009.
The DPS canceled his license for three years, beginning in 2009. But it was reinstated in July 2012 after he met the legal requirements, said a department spokesman.
“These high-profile offenders often grab the media’s attention,” said Frank Harris, director of state government affairs for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). “But the truth is that first-time offenders are just as dangerous as the 13th- or 20th-time offender.”
One in four deaths on Minnesota roads is related to drunken driving, according to the DPS. Last year, 88 people were killed in crashes involving a drunken driver.
“That’s historically low,” Harris said. “But it’s 88 too many people. … With more effective and better-worded laws that don’t allow for so many loopholes and caveats where defense attorneys can get their clients off for reduced [penalties]. There need to be more swift and firm penalties, starting with first offenders.”
As for a 12-time offender, Harris said, putting them in jail for life might stop him from drinking but it wouldn’t be cost-effective.
Instead, MADD would like states to require all convicted drunken drivers to use ignition interlock devices that require drivers to submit to a breath test before the vehicle will start. Twenty-five states have laws requiring those devices for first-time convicted offenders, Harris said. Minnesota is one of 14 states that requires it only for repeat offenders and first-time offenders with blood alcohol content 0.16 or higher, he said.
It’s unclear whether McCready had such a device in his truck.
A state trooper located the pickup on 35W, noted “the swerving driving conduct” and activated the squad’s lights near the Johnson Street exit in northeast Minneapolis, according to Schweigart.
The pickup responded by accelerating and continuing south on the interstate as another trooper and a Minneapolis police vehicle joined in the pursuit.
McCready drove 55 to 65 miles per hour, at times “slowing to pull over, then accelerating away.”
With several patrol cars and a Bloomington police vehicle now giving chase, McCready exited at 90th Street. A trooper used his squad car to try and ram the pickup to a halt, but that maneuver failed.
McCready brought the drama to an end when he parked in the drive of his house on W. 90th Street, just east of the interstate.
McCready’s first drunken driving offense occurred in 1995, and they piled up from there. In April 1999, one stop revealed a blood alcohol content of 0.33. That same month, he was caught boating while intoxicated.