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Probation for trooper in drunken driving and texting case

WILLMAR -- The off-duty Minnesota State Patrol trooper who drove while impaired, texted and caused an April 6 injury crash along U.S. Highway 12 was sentenced Thursday in Meeker County District Court.

Scott Charles Urdahl, 40, of Darwin, was sentenced to 60 days in the Meeker County Jail, three years of probation and a $750 fine on a felony ch-arge of criminal vehicular operation.

The jail was divided into two 30-day segments, with the first segment starting Nov. 26 and the second segment starting Oct. 29, 2011.

The second segment may be deferred if Urdahl is in compliance with probation.

Urdahl was also ordered by District Judge Kathryn N. Smith to pay $3,168.42 in restitution, make an apology, attend a MADD impact panel, follow the recommendations of a chemical use assessment, not use drugs or alcohol and not enter businesses that derive their primary income from alcohol sales. He received a stay of imposition on his sentence. Under the stay, his felony conviction will be reduced to a misdemeanor if he complies with the terms of sentence.

Under a plea agreement, another felony for criminal vehicular operation was dismissed.

According to the criminal complaint and information from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Urdahl was arrested for driving while impaired after the crash, which happened around 9:30 p.m. April 6 along U.S. Highway 12 in Darwin Township, about two miles east of Litchfield.

He admitted that he was texting when his vehicle crossed the center line of the highway.

Urdahl was driving a personal vehicle, a Chevy Silverado, westbound and crossed over the centerline and collided with an eastbound vehicle, a Buick Century driven by Carrie Nickel, 57, of Litchfield. She was treated at Meeker Memorial Hospital for cuts to her head and finger and for chest pain and was released.

According to the criminal complaint, Nickel and a witness said that Urdahl's vehicle crossed into the eastbound lane and struck the oncoming vehicle. Another State Patrol trooper responding to the crash noticed Urdahl exhibited signs of alcohol consumption and the responding trooper administered field sobriety tests. A preliminary breath test showed a blood-alcohol level of 0.112 percent.

The threshold for DWI in Minnesota is 0.08 percent. A blood sample was also taken from Urdahl at Meeker Memorial Hospital. That blood sample revealed a blood-alcohol level of 0.14, according to David Hunt, the Ramsey County Assistant County Attorney prosecuting the case. Ramsey County officials prosecuted the case at the request of Meeker County officials.

Urdahl admitted to drinking six drinks at the American Legion, that he felt the effects of the alcohol and that it had affected his ability to drive.

According to the Department of Public Safety, Urdahl has served as a state trooper since May 1998. In April, Department of Public Safety officials placed him on unpaid status pending the outcome of a criminal and internal investigation.

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. 

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