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Dave Roepke, Published September 15 2010

Ex-attorney gets jail in DWI crash

A former Fargo attorney pleaded guilty Tuesday in Clay County District Court to charges connected to a June 11 drunken-driving crash and was sentenced to nine months of jail time.

Robert Light, 46, said in his guilty plea that he did not recall much from the accident, which left one of the victims with a lingering back injury and backed up lake-bound Friday afternoon traffic on Highway 10 for about an hour.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, Light was driving north on County Road 14 with his 10-year-old son in his vehicle when he blew a stop sign, colliding with a car heading east on Highway 10.

In his plea, Light said he was drinking vodka before the crash, but he’s not sure how much. Field tests and a blood draw put his BAC at 0.16, twice the legal limit for driving a vehicle.

Light pleaded guilty to a trio of gross misdemeanors – second-degree driving while intoxicated and two counts of criminal vehicular operation. Six charges, including one felony, were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

He was given three one-year sentences, with all but 90 days stayed on each, and the sentences are consecutive, meaning he’s facing a 270-day jail term. He has credit for 96 days served.

If he gets credit for good behavior in jail, Light may have just three additional months to serve.

Light could be on probation for up to six years after his release from jail. His lawyer said he plans to enroll in a residential treatment program in Minot, N.D.

The former attorney was disbarred from practicing law in North Dakota in 2009 after a 2007 terrorizing conviction for sticking a loaded pistol in a police officer’s face.

Clay County Judge Lisa Borgen said Light was a good lawyer in need of help for substance abuse issues.

“I don’t know if it could get any further down to the bottom,” Borgen told him. “There’s got to be a time where you say, ‘I’ve got to make a change.’ ”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535