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Luverne man racks up fourth alcohol-related arrest

LUVERNE -- A 27-year-old Luverne man was charged Wednesday with driving a vehicle with an open container of alcohol in his car while his infant daughter was in the back seat, according to a criminal complaint filed with the Rock County Sheriff's Office.

Austin Kruger was sentenced in February on two DWI cases that took place three months apart in two separate counties.

His 365-day jail term was stayed on the condition he serve 90 days and spend two years on probation.

The sentences for the two cases were concurrent. He was to have a chemical dependency evaluation, attend a MADD Impact Panel and to have no alcohol or drug possession or use during his probation.

Kruger was arrested Saturday after a Minnesota State Patrol officer on Interstate 90 received a report of a driver with an open beer can travelling westbound three vehicles behind his own squad car.

The trooper pulled onto an exit and waited for the vehicle to pass, then followed the motorist for a short time to observe his behavior.

The trooper conducted a traffic stop and approached the vehicle only to see the driver lean forward and to the right of the passenger seat area.

The driver, when asked if he had been consuming alcohol, denied it and reached behind his seat to pull out a bottle of soda.

He told the trooper he had been riding horses and gave the trooper permission to look into his car.

In the area the driver had leaned toward, the trooper spotted a pair of cowboy boots, each holding a can of beer.

One was unopened, the other was partially empty and still cold.

The driver denied any knowledge of the beer.

The man stated he didn't have a driver's license with him, but wrote his name down for the trooper as Mike Kruger, adding a date of birth.

When the trooper ran the name, he found no record, but did find a record with the name Michael and a different date of birth.

The trooper noted Kruger was acting nervous, smoking one cigarette after another.

He also observed the man's infant daughter was in the vehicle.

The trooper approached the vehicle again to question the name and birthdate, and the man provided a different birthdate.

The trooper asked if the driver would take a pre-liminary breath test, and Kruger stated he would.

When the trooper walked to his car to get the machine, the driver sped away in his vehicle.

Kruger allegedly turned his car around in the median and headed back east, exiting at Beaver Creek.

The trooper contacted a Rock County deputy, who was eventually able to make contact with the registered owner of the vehicle.

She confirmed Kruger lived at her residence. The trooper went to the residence and arrested Kruger without further incident, but Kruger claimed to have drank four or five beers after getting home.

The alias Kruger gave to the trooper is known to be a relative of the defendant.

Austin Kruger received a DWI in 2008 in Nobles County, pleading guilty to the charge and being sentenced to 90 days in jail, which was also stayed.

He was instructed at that time to complete an alcohol assessment, attend a MADD Impact Panel and was placed on probation for one year.

His next DWI arrest was in Nobles County in March 2011, with a second DWI arrest in Rock County in June.

At that time, he was also charged with driving after revocation, open bottle, theft and operating an unregistered vehicle.

He pleaded guilty in February to one count of DWI from each case.

His current charges include fleeing a peace officer, child endangerment, driving after cancellation-inimical to public safety, giving a false name to a peace officer and open bottle.