Mayor Val Gets a DWI

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The New Brighton mayor’s blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit when a police officer pulled her over early Sunday morning, according to charges filed against her Tuesday.

Valerie Johnson admitted to the offense when she made her first appearance on the charges Tuesday afternoon at the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center.

Johnson pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree DWI during the hearing. A second count against her was dropped.

Johnson, 60, was pulled over at Ramsey County Road E and Old Highway 8 at 1:55 a.m. Sunday by a New Brighton police officer who noted she had expired tabs and was traveling 54 mph in a 40 mph zone, legal documents say.

Johnson was slurring her speech and exhibited watery, bloodshot eyes, during the traffic stop, so she was given a preliminary breath test.

Her blood-alcohol at the time was 0.17, according to the charges. The legal limit to drive is 0.08 in Minnesota.

A few thoughts:

  • If you blow a 0.17, you have no excuse. None.
  • As readers of this feature know, I don't care for Mayor Johnson or her politics. I think she's been an abysmally bad mayor for any number of reasons. That stands.
  • I've not personally witnessed her public behavior, but it's long been an open secret that she likes to drink and often drinks to excess. The stories have gone around town for years. Perhaps she'll learn from this. I hope she does.
  • The most curious thing about the episode? I do not know how she could possibly have expired tabs. She is the mayor of New Brighton. There is a license bureau in City Hall. She would have had almost unlimited opportunities to go get new tabs. Plenty of people have trouble getting over to the license bureau. It does not compute.
  • Should she resign? Maybe, but I'm not calling for it. She needs to get help, though, and soon. She could have killed someone.

We'll continue to watch this matter. The jockeying for position could get interesting.