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Willmar, Minn., man faces felony charges of drunken driving after Saturday crash

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news Willmar, 56201
West Central Tribune
(320) 235-6769 customer support
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR -- Pyone Cho, 50, of Willmar, made his first appearance Tuesday on two felony charges of driving while impaired for alleged driving drunk Saturday and crashing at Regency Estates West.

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Unconditional bail was set at $50,000. His next appearance is June 24.

According to the court records, Cho has two prior convictions in 2010 in Nobles County for driving while impaired, plus faces gross misdemeanor charges stemming from a July 2012 incident in Kandiyohi County. His next appearance on those charges is also on June 24 in Kandiyohi County District Court.

According to the complaint, a Willmar police officer was called around 2 p.m. Saturday to the 400 block of 30th Street Northwest for a motor vehicle crash. The owner of one of the vehicles said his friend, Cho, had been driving the vehicle and that Cho lived nearby. The driver of the other vehicle said Cho made a U-turn in front of him and hit his vehicle.

Cho came back to the scene, and through an interpreter, gave his driver's license information. He was initially identified as driving after cancellation - inimical to public safety.

The officer left the scene and prepared to write the crash report, but then received information that Cho had arrest warrants for the July 2012 drunken driving charge. The officer turned to Regency West, located Cho and took him into custody.

At the county jail, a corrections officer smelled alcohol on Cho and administered a preliminary breath test, which showed a blood alcohol content of 0.38 percent. The legal limit for driving is 0.08.

A Burmese interpreter was brought to the jail and another breath test was administered, showing a blood alcohol content of 0.30 percent. Cho submitted to field sobriety tests and failed the tests.

He was arrested around 6 p.m. and submitted to another breath test, which showed a blood alcohol content of 0.25 percent.

Cho was then interviewed and allegedly admitted to driving, said the other vehicle struck his vehicle and that he had only had three beers that day, claiming that he had bought eight beers and drank the other five beers the previous evening.

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Gretchen Schlosser

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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