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VIDEO: ND Tax Commissioner Rauschenberger's DUI arrest released by Highway Patrol

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North Dakota Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger is arrested for drunk driving Sept. 30, 2017, in Mandan, N.D., in this screenshot of a Highway Patrol video of the incident. 2 / 3
North Dakota Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger, left, is arrested for drunk driving Sept. 30, 2017, in Mandan, N.D., in this screenshot of a Highway Patrol video of the incident. 3 / 3

BISMARCK — North Dakota Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger acknowledged Tuesday, Oct. 31, that he lied when he told a state trooper he had "like one drink" three hours prior to his September drunk driving arrest in Mandan.

Rauschenberger, 34, pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol, a Class B misdemeanor, and will serve almost a year of unsupervised probation under a plea agreement reached last week. He'll also pay $1,250 in fines and fees and obtain a chemical dependency evaluation under the agreement.

Rauschenberger told Trooper Tarek Chase that he had "like one drink ... like three hours ago" after he was pulled over at 10:18 p.m. on Sept. 30, according to a report provided Tuesday by the North Dakota Highway Patrol. But a preliminary breath test indicated his blood alcohol content was .208 percent, more than twice the legal limit, while a later test showed a BAC of .206 percent.

Rauschenberger, a Republican, said Tuesday he had more than one drink.

"I do regret saying that," he said, noting that he complied with the trooper's requests during the traffic stop and arrest. The tax commissioner was "cooperative" during the incident, according to the Highway Patrol report.

Chase said he saw Rauschenberger swerving within his lane on Highway 810, known as the expressway connecting Bismarck and Mandan, and he observed the tax commissioner's car cross over the right side fog line twice with its right side tires. Rauschenberger then exited the highway before immediately re-entering it, which Chase found "odd."

Chase noticed that Rauschenberger's eyes were bloodshot and watery and his speech was slurred after he pulled him over. He smelled a "strong odor" of alcohol even though the car was a convertible, a 2004 BMW 325.

Rauschenberger made several errors during onsite sobriety tests, such as repeating the letter H several times while reciting the alphabet and omitting the number 50 when counting down from 72 to 49. He also displayed poor finger dexterity, according to Chase's report.

The Highway Patrol also provided a nearly 80-minute video of Rauschenberger's traffic stop and arrest Tuesday.

Rauschenberger took a leave of absence in 2014 to seek professional help for alcohol problems. In disclosing the arrest earlier this month, he said he had been doing better but "let his guard down" and said he would go back into treatment with a new counselor.

North Dakota court records indicate this was Rauschenberger's first DUI arrest here. Mark Friese, a Fargo defense attorney, said his plea deal was "quite typical" for such a case, although he "probably got pinched a little bit harder on the fines and fees."

Rauschenberger is up for re-election next year, and he said Monday he'll likely make a decision about his future in the next couple of months.

Gov. Doug Burgum previously expressed support for Rauschenberger "as he pursues his path to recovery." A North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party spokesman said earlier this month that it's now "worth a discussion about whether Commissioner Rauschenberger is able do his job for North Dakota."

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

(701) 255-5607
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