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Murdock man pleads to DWI in drunken driving of tractor

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news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

BENSON -- A 54-year-old Murdock man pleaded guilty Tuesday to a gross misdemeanor charge of driving while impaired for a June 20 incident that involved the drunken driving of a John Deere tractor.

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Gregory Kenneth Smith was sentenced Tuesday in Swift County District Court on the charge of driving while impaired - refusing to submit to a chemical test. He was sentenced to 365 days in the county jail, with 305 days stayed and 60 days to serve, a $1,100 fine, three years of probation, 60 days of electronic alcohol monitoring and chemical dependency evaluation and treatment.

The Swift County Attorney's office had also sought the forfeiture of the tractor, a John Deere 4250 model. According to Assistant County Attorney Harry Hohman, the county agreed that if Smith paid $17,000, the tractor would be returned to him, rather than the county having to bear the costs to continue the forfeiture case and the expense to sell the tractor.

The charge was filed after June 20, when a Swift County deputy was called to a rural DeGraff residence to remove an intoxicated man from a property. A woman reported that a man came to her residence driving a tractor, that he appeared to be intoxicated, wanted to talk to the former owner of the property and would not leave.

The deputy did not see a tractor when he arrived but waited and observed a green tractor later pull back into the yard of the residence. The deputy approached the tractor driver, who was identified as Smith, and noted the smell of alcoholic beverage on his breath. Smith refused a preliminary breath test and failed several field sobriety tests. Three open beer cans, plus a partially empty case of Miller Lite beer that was still cold to the touch, were found in the tractor.

Smith has a prior conviction for driving while impaired and his driver's license has been listed as driving after cancellation - inimical to public safety since February 2005.

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Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

(320) 214-4373
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