Willmar man sentenced to prison for refusing tests after DWI arrest

Thomas RyanJames.jpg
Ryan James Thomas Minnesota Department of Corrections custody photo

LITCHFIELD — Ryan James Thomas, 40, of Willmar has received a 46-month prison sentence for a felony charge of driving while impaired — refusal to test.

In Meeker County District Court last week, Thomas was given credit for 38 days already served in jail and placed on conditional release for five years after he leaves prison.

Under state law he will serve at least two-thirds of his sentence in prison and may be eligible for supervised release for the remainder of his sentence.

He was ordered to pay $335 in fines and court fees from his prison earnings.

According to court records, Meeker County authorities were called the evening of July 1 when a vehicle was seen driving in and out of various driveways in Grove City. The driver, later known to be Thomas, was getting out of the vehicle and looking at houses, according to the report.


When a Meeker County sheriff's deputy tried to stop him, the driver accelerated and stopped only after the deputy caught up in his squad vehicle.

According to the criminal complaint, Thomas had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, was stumbling, had bloodshot and watery eyes and was slurring his words.

At the jail, Thomas refused to perform field sobriety tests or take breath tests and was informed he could face additional charges for refusing. He also refused to provide blood or urine samples when served with a search warrant about 45 minutes after arriving at the jail. When contacted, the owner of the vehicle said Thomas did not have permission to drive it.

Thomas was convicted of a felony DWI in 2017 in Renville County, and of two previous DWIs in Kandiyohi County in the past 10 years.

The state’s court website indicates he has been convicted of a total of six DWI charges. The first was in 1999.

Related Topics: CRIME AND COURTS
In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: or phone 320-214-4340
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