A homeless woman who allegedly stole a car and fled to Iowa and a man who didn’t use a turn signal are among the people newly charged with violating Gov. Tim Walz’s COVID-19 executive orders.
A total of 61 cases and 60 individuals statewide have been charged between March and Tuesday morning; one woman was charged twice in Wabasha County District Court.
Seventeen new cases were divulged Tuesday; 16 of them filed since April 28. Eleven of the new charges — or nearly 65% — were added onto other criminal counts that included reckless driving, drunken driving, stalking and theft.
The Legal Rights Center and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Minnesota have broadly criticized tacking the COVID-19 violations onto other charges, saying authorities should focus on the original offense.
The ACLU, Walz and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety have recommended education before enforcement.
Walz’s orders require people to stay home except for limited reasons, such as buying food or driving for pleasure, and prohibit restaurants and bars from holding dine-in service.
Walz’s stay-at-home order went into effect March 27 and expires May 18. Violating his order is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
The new cases are:
• A North St. Paul police officer cited a woman and man for going to a friend’s house.
• The same officer also cited an Oakdale man who did not use a turn signal. He was also cited for driving after revocation, no insurance and defaced or altered registration. His female and male passengers were also cited after telling the officer they were going to a carwash.
• A Mounds View man was cited by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office. He was stopped after driving by an address where he had previously been called on “many times,” the citation said. He was also cited for not carrying proof of insurance.
• North St. Paul police cited a New Brighton man along with theft. He allegedly stole liquor from Target.
• An allegedly drunk Wayzata woman was charged after she turned into oncoming traffic on County Road 19. The woman, who was wearing a face mask, told a deputy she was exposing him to COVID-19. She was also charged with two counts of second-degree driving while intoxicated and one count of violating restrictions imposed on her driver’s license, all gross misdemeanors.
• The violation was among several charges levied against a homeless woman who allegedly stole a car and led a deputy and the State Patrol on a pursuit reaching speeds of more than 110 mph. The woman stole the car from Worthington, striking the owner with the vehicle as she fled, charges said. The owner survived but had back and hip pain.
She fled to Iowa. After returning to Minnesota, she evaded the deputy’s attempt to stop her using a pit maneuver, drove into a ditch, plowed into a freshly planted cornfield and rolled the vehicle.
The woman, who was uninjured, was also charged with two felonies — theft and fleeing police — gross misdemeanor criminal vehicular operation, and two other misdemeanors — careless driving and speeding.
• A Brooklyn Park man was cited along with theft.
• Brooklyn Park police cited a Minneapolis woman along with reckless driving and driving without a license.
• A Wabasha woman was cited two times in the same day by her local police department.
• A Verndale man was charged alongside third-degree driving while intoxicated, speeding and two counts of drug possession. A deputy stopped him for speeding, and he allegedly admitted to having used methamphetamine, Adderall and marijuana, and having just patronized a smoke shop.
• Worthington police responded to seven calls between December 2019 and May 3 involving a local man allegedly hitting his ex-girlfriend or violating a court order to stay away from her. He was charged with the COVID-19 violation and stalking, harassment, violating a domestic abuse no-contact order, fleeing police, obstructing the legal process and trespassing.
• A Loretto man was charged after being reported for violating a domestic abuse no-contact order and harassment restraining order.
He allegedly fled police at more than 130 mph. He was also charged with fleeing police, reckless driving, not driving with due care and having an open bottle in a car.
• A Fergus Falls man was charged after police found him slumped in his parked, running car with the driver side door open.
He was also charged with second-degree driving while intoxicated.