The longest-serving commissioner now on the Washington County Board was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in Forest Lake over the weekend.
Dennis Hegberg, 62, failed a sobriety test after an officer stopped him. He was taken to the police department, where he registered a 0.14 percent blood-alcohol level, Police Chief Clark Quiring said Tuesday. The state's legal limit for driving is 0.08.
Hegberg, attending a national transportation conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, expressed remorse over the phone and said he won't contest the charge. "I admit I was drinking and admitted it to the officer when he picked me up," said Hegberg, a Forest Lake resident and banker. "I'm sorry for my inappropriate behavior and poor judgment on a Friday night."
Hegberg said he had spent the evening with friends, starting with dinner that began at 4 p.m. He estimated he drank four mixed drinks and some wine in the nine hours before his arrest.
"It won't happen again," said Hegberg, who said this was his first arrest. "It was a stupid unfortunate incident on my part."
Quiring said an officer saw a vehicle turn left off Lake Street, or Hwy. 61, without signaling. As the vehicle continued east on Hwy. 97 the officer saw it cross the fog line -- the white strip that separates the driving lane from the shoulder -- three times before pulling the car over, Quiring said. "He could smell the odor of alcoholic beverages," the chief said.
Hegberg was alone in the car and was cooperative with police, Quiring said. Hegberg was cited for fourth-degree drunken driving and released to a sober person who came to get him at the police department, the chief said.
Hegberg, who joined the County Board in 1989, was reelected to his seventh term in November. He represents District 1, which includes Forest Lake, Hugo and Scandia.
As a county commissioner, Hegberg has been a champion of finance and tax issues and of public transit to accommodate the county's rapid growth. He was the board's chairman a year ago during a difficult public hearing when commissioners voted 3-2 to enact a quarter-cent sales tax to support transit development in the metro area.
Public records show Hegberg was cited for speeding four times from 1997 to 2003, but had no other alcohol-related offenses.
Forest Lake police are cracking down on drunken drivers with help from grants and campaigns that free up officers for more patrols, Quiring said. The city had 96 drunken-driving arrests in 2007. Last year it had 133.
Hegberg expects he will be summoned to Washington County District Court in Stillwater at some point to make a plea, but he said the case may be transferred to a different judicial district because of his position.
Kevin Giles • 612-673-4432