MINNEAPOLIS — A Ruthton woman’s driver’s license was unlawfully revoked after she allegedly struck and seriously injured a juvenile in a 2017 drunken-driving incident in Ruthton, the Minnesota Court of Appeals recently decided.
The court of appeals reversed Fifth Judicial District Judge Terry Vajgrt’s decision to deny Pauline C. Jensen, 50, a license revocation hearing. Vajgrt’s decision upheld the revocation issued by a Pipestone County patrol sergeant after Jensen allegedly struck the juvenile, fled the scene and was later found to be under the influence of alcohol. The case remains open.
In the recent court of appeals’ decision, the judges agreed with Jensen’s argument that the Commissioner of Public Safety unlawfully revoked her license because the sergeant failed to verbally warn her that blood alcohol content test refusal was a crime, which is a warning required by Minnesota State Statute. She petitioned for a hearing, which Vajgrt denied. The law, the court of appeals argued, is unambiguous.
Jensen’s driver’s license revocation stemmed from a Dec. 3, 2017 incident at Buffalo Ridge Express gas station in Ruthton where Jensen allegedly struck a 13-year-old male with her car and left the scene. First responders arrived to treat the boy, who was reportedly screaming in pain, had a bleeding face and body from abrasions and was having difficulty breathing. He was transported to the Tyler hospital and later airlifted to Sioux Falls, S.D.
Jensen was later found at the Sunset Bar and Grill, where the sergeant got indications that she was intoxicated. She failed field sobriety tests, and a preliminary breath test registered an alcohol concentration of .17.
A search warrant for a draw of Jensen’s blood was obtained. The results confirmed an alcohol concentration greater than the .08 statutory limit, and the Commissioner of Public Safety revoked her license.
As a result, Jensen was charged with criminal vehicular operation, failure to stop for a collision that caused an injury, fourth-degree driving while impaired and driving after revocation. The charges are still pending, with a tentative three-day jury trial scheduled to begin early next year.
The decision by the court of appeals remanded the case back to the district court for further proceedings.
Jensen also faces two other outstanding alcohol-related cases in Pipestone County.
She’s been charged with selling liquor to a person younger than 21 at Sunset Bar in Ruthton. The complaint accuses her of failing to check the teenager’s identification. The purchase was a controlled buy in conjunction with law enforcement.
Jensen also faces a second-degree driving while intoxicated charge, which stems from a January domestic assault call. According to the criminal complaint, upon the officer’s arrival, he witnessed Jensen’s vehicle to be parked facing the wrong direction. A test revealed a breath alcohol content of .19, the complaint states.