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Somerset man charged with sixth OWI

Ralph G. Berres

A Somerset man returned to court this week after being charged in St. Croix County Circuit Court with his sixth drunken driving offense.

A preliminary hearing was held Monday for 58-year-old Ralph G. Berres, who faces one felony count of OWI-sixth.

The May 27 drunken driving arrest was followed by another brush with the law three days later when Berres was arrested again after allegedly being witnessed driving in violation of his release conditions — an incident that led to two felony bail jumping charges.

According to a criminal complaint, New Richmond police went looking for Berres on May 27 after he was seen driving in the Federal Foam parking lot on Wisconsin Drive — the same place he was a day earlier when police learned he didn't have a valid driver's license, had expired registration and was displaying a false registration plate.

Officers went to the Heritage Drive apartments, where a red Dodge Ram truck hauling a trailer was parked on the grass. An officer recognized it as the same truck he saw Berres driving.

Another officer stopped Berres on foot at the apartment building and took him into custody. Berres allegedly told police he drove from Federal Foam to the apartment complex.

During the conversation, police smelled alcohol coming from Berres, the complaint states. According to the complaint, he told officers he'd been drinking earlier in the day.

Officers noticed opened beer cans behind the driver's seat of the truck, according to the complaint.

The complaint states that after running Berres through a series of field sobriety tests that yielded clues of impairment, he was given a breath test that revealed a 0.08 blood-alcohol level, the legal threshold in Wisconsin.

In addition to the felony charge, Berres was cited for open container and operating without a valid license.

Berres was arrested again on suspicion of bail jumping after a New Richmond officer saw him driving his truck towing an RV at 7:57 p.m. May 30. The vehicles were already on law enforcement's radar after receiving a complaint that Berres' RV and truck had been parked at the Heritage Drive apartment property.

The officer pulled over the truck in traffic, with Berres allegedly behind the wheel. That complaint states Berres said knew he wasn't supposed to be driving but was moving the vehicles off the property and was planning for his sister to pick him up.

A check of the truck revealed it wasn't registered and contained several cold beer cans. An open bottle of Budweiser was allegedly found in the passenger door and an open beer can was allegedly found behind the passenger seat.

The officer had Berres perform a breath test, which the complaint states revealed he had a 0.02 blood-alcohol level, which represented a violation of his absolute sobriety order.

Judge Eric Lundell set bail May 31 at $5,000 cash.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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