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Yahoo/AP: Minn. Man Charged With DUI for 23rd Time


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Minn. Man Charged With DUI for 23rd Time

Sat Jun 26, 5:51 PM ET

MINNEAPOLIS - A man was charged with drunken driving for the 23rd time in 20 years after allegedly leading state troopers on a chase through the southern metro area.

State Patrol Capt. Jay Swanson said troopers arrested Raymond J. Sherman, 41, after dawn Thursday after using stop sticks to deflate Sherman's tires on state Highway 77. The chase allegedly started about 3 a.m.

He said Sherman showed obvious signs of intoxication and was uncooperative. Sherman refused to give his name, Swanson said, but one of the troopers on the scene knew him. That trooper had arrested Sherman for his 22nd DWI in July 2002.

Two years ago, Sherman told the trooper that "he would not go to treatment or quit drinking," according to the criminal complaint filed in that case.

Sherman was later sentenced to one year for first-degree drunken driving and another year for driving with a canceled license. He was in the Dakota County jail from Dec. 26, 2002, to March 29, 2004, according to jail officials.

Swanson said Sherman also told the trooper during that 2002 arrest that the next time officers tried to catch him, he would run. "He's a man of his word — he did," Swanson said.

Thursday's chase involved speeds of more than 70 miles per hour. At one point, Sherman braked suddenly on Highway 77 near the Mall of America, causing the pursuing troopers to swerve and barely miss his 1993 Jeep Cherokee, Swanson said.

After Thursday's arrest, Swanson said Sherman told the officers that if chased in the future, he would "mess up some squad cars."

Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar said she cited Sherman's drunken-driving history and light sentences when she testified at the Legislature in support of a new law making a fourth drunken-driving offense within 10 years a felony with a sentence of as much as seven years.

The felony DWI law was less than a month away from taking effect when Sherman was charged in 2002, but Klobuchar said she would prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law this time.

"I'm glad he came into my county because he was my example, and now he is going to see the effect of the new law," Klobuchar said. "After his 22nd arrest, he boasted that he was going to keep drinking and driving, and he has."

Her office charged him Thursday with three felony counts for drunken driving, fleeing a peace officer and refusing to submit to the chemical test for impairment. He was also charged with the gross misdemeanor of driving without a license — Klobuchar said he hasn't had one since 1984.

Under the old DWI law, Sherman would have faced no more than a year in the workhouse. She said that because Sherman has other felony convictions, her office will seek at least a five-year sentence, followed by five years of supervised release.

"This is the kind of case where he would get automatic prison time," she said.

Sherman was being held in the Hennepin County jail with bail set at $75,000.

"This is what the felony DWI law is for," said Jon Cummings of Minnesotans for Safe Driving. "This guy is a public menace and has to be put away before he hurts himself or somebody else."

During the first 18 months of the new law, 920 people were sentenced for felony drunken-driving offenses, according to the state Sentencing Guidelines Commission. Hennepin County has filed felony drunken-driving charges in 350 cases since the new law was enacted and Ramsey County, in 151 cases. Nearly all of those resolved so far yielded convictions, said Klobuchar and Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner.

Alcohol-related crashes caused 239 deaths in Minnesotans in 2002, the most recent year for which data are available, said Kevin Smith, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety.

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