Minnesota lawmaker charged with drunken driving

| 8/4/2004

A Minnesota state legislator was arrested early July 31 on a charge of driving under the influence.

Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, was pulled over about 1:30 a.m. Saturday, on U.S. 169 in Mountain Iron, MN, after St. Louis County, MN, Sheriff’s Office deputies saw him driving erratically, the Star Tribune reported.

Rukavina, 54, was cited for fourth-degree drunken driving after being given field sobriety tests. He took a blood-alcohol test at the county jail and registered 0.15 percent. He was cooperative, Sheriff Ross Litman said.

In recent years Rukavina has been a leading opponent of legislation to change his state’s blood-alcohol limit for drunken driving from 0.10 percent to 0.08 percent, the newspaper reported. The Legislature approved the change earlier this year with an Aug. 1, 2005, effective date.

Rukavina said in a written statement released Aug. 2 he intended to plead guilty when he appears in court later this month.

“I screwed up. I’m sorry for what I did,” he said. “I’m ashamed of myself, and I apologize to my constituents and the people of Minnesota.”

Rukavina was first elected in 1986 and has won re-election by wide margins in the eight elections since then. He has filed to run for a 10th term in the Nov. 2 general election.