Dakota County District Judge Michael V. Sovis has been charged with gross-misdemeanor drunken driving after he allegedly hit two parked cars on St. Clair Avenue in St. Paul on Christmas Eve.

Sovis, 63, of Apple Valley, was charged Thursday by the St. Paul city attorney's office with two counts of third-degree drunken driving. His blood-alcohol level was 0.28 percent, more than three times the legal limit for driving of 0.08 percent, court documents show.

According to the documents and police, officers were called at 7:48 p.m. Monday on reports that a sport-utility vehicle had hit parked cars in the 1200 block of St. Clair. The SUV was on a snowbank nearby when the squad car arrived. Neither Sovis nor his wife, Ann Marie, who was in the passenger seat, was injured.

Sovis was given sobriety tests at the scene, police spokesman Howie Padilla said. Sovis was arrested and booked into the Ramsey County jail. He posted $12,000 bond and was released the next morning.

A court date has not been set. His attorney, David Ayers of Mendota Heights, said Thursday: "The only comment that I would have on Judge Sovis' behalf is that Judge Sovis takes this matter very seriously.

"I have advised him not to comment and to not take any phone calls," Ayers said.

The complaint filed in Ramsey County District Court said Sovis told officers that he'd had six drinks containing vodka.

Witnesses reported hearing a loud crash and saw a black SUV hit a parked vehicle, then make a U-turn. The SUV then hit another parked vehicle before accelerating into a snowbank, the complaint said.

Sovis was unsteady on his feet and needed help from an officer in order to not fall down, the report said. A preliminary breath test at the scene yielded a reading of 0.2555 percent. An hour later, at the jail, another breath test measured 0.28 percent, the complaint said.

Sovis was appointed to the First District Court bench in 1988 by Gov. Rudy Perpich. He was elected four times, most recently in 2008. His term expires in 2015.

He is a 1975 graduate of Hamline Law School in St. Paul and was in private practice specializing in civil and criminal trial work before his judicial appointment.

Pat Pheifer • 952-746-3284