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Erik Burgess, Published October 10 2012

West Fargo man with 14 DUIs gets 4 years

FARGO – A West Fargo man facing his 14th drunken driving charge pleaded guilty in Cass County District Court on Wednesday.

Kevin Tegtmeier, 60, was sentenced to four years in prison, just one year less than the maximum possible five years requested by the prosecution.

“This defendant just doesn’t get it,” said Cherie Clark, assistant Cass County state’s attorney. “I think the court needs to send him a message. I think the court needs to send the public a message.”

When he was arrested July 13, Tegtmeier had a blood alcohol level of 0.251 percent, more than three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

North Dakota’s toughest penalty against repeat drunken-driving offenders is five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. A person who’s convicted five times in seven years is eligible for the penalty.

Tegtmeier’s defense attorney asked the judge to move the case to drug court, telling the court that Tegtmeier is a Vietnam War veteran and a “functioning drunk” with a serious dependency issue.

“Let’s treat the illness, address the PTSD concerns, address the chemical dependency concerns,” said Nicholas Thornton, his defense attorney.

Thornton told the court that prison time would not address these deeper issues.

Judge Wade Webb said he respected Tegtmeier for his military service, but he said 14 DUIs is simply too many.

“The court believes you’re a danger to the community,” Webb said. “This isn’t a matter of a mistake or two.”

A search of North Dakota and Minnesota court records shows Tegtmeier has been convicted of alcohol offenses in Cass and Clay counties, and in the Minnesota counties of Anoka, Stevens and Clearwater.

Tegtmeier has also been charged in North Dakota with several driving under suspension charges since 2006.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518


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