BISMARCK — Prosecutors filed a formal charge of DUI against North Dakota's elected K-12 leader on Tuesday, March 10, stemming from a late February arrest in Burleigh County.
Kirsten Kay Baesler, superintendent of the state Department of Public Instruction, was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving Wednesday, Feb. 26, along Interstate 94 in Bismarck. She is slated to appear in court March 25 on a Class B misdemeanor of driving under the influence. The 50-year-old could face up to 30 days in jail.
“I’m looking forward to putting the legal process behind me, and focusing on my health and well-being, and on serving the students and families of North Dakota," Baesler said in a statement.
According to a criminal complaint:
A state trooper began following a white 2010 Ford F-150 pickup truck on a ramp, headed west on I-94. The officer said he noticed the vehicle cross the fog line several times. After stopping the vehicle, the driver was identified as Baesler.
The state trooper said he could "detect a moderate odor of alcoholic beverages" coming from Baesler as she sat in his patrol car. Baesler, whose eyes were bloodshot and whose speech was "slightly slurred," told the officer she had three Coors Light beers.
She failed three field sobriety tests but refused to submit to a chemical test that could determine her blood alcohol content, court records said.
She has not been charged with refusal to submit to a chemical test. This is Baesler's first drunken driving arrest.
Baesler previously said she plans to plead guilty to any charges that stem from the DUI arrest. She also announced plans to seek outpatient treatment.
Baesler has been the state superintendent since 2012, and she plans to run for reelection this year.
When asked why the criminal case didn't include a charge of refusing a chemical test, the Burleigh County State's Attorney Office did not immediately respond.