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Roberts man charged with ninth OWI

St. Croix County Circuit Court

A Roberts man was charged with his ninth drunken-driving offense after a weekend traffic stop in Hudson.

The Wisconsin State Patrol announced 47-year-old Shawn A. Harstad was arrested at 12:27 a.m., Feb. 4, at the Carmichael Road westbound Interstate 94 off-ramp. According to a news release, the stop was prompted by a trooper who saw the vehicle driving on its rotor, which was throwing off sparks.

Harstad, formerly of St. Cloud, Minn., has eight previous drunken-driving convictions, according to the State Patrol.

St. Croix County prosecutors charged Harstad on Monday with OWI-ninth, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Edward Vlack ordered him held on $2,500 cash bond during his initial appearance.

According to a criminal complaint:

The trooper pulled over the vehicle after seeing sparks coming from its underside. The vehicle was seen traveling at freeway speeds while driving without a front left tire or rim.

Asked why the vehicle was missing its rim — the trooper noted the rotor was caked with grass and dirt — the driver, later identified as Harstad, said the tire "just fell off."

"I found this hard to believe from what I observed as the vehicle drove past me," the trooper wrote in the complaint.

The trooper noticed signs of impairment after talking with Harstad, who first identified himself as his dead brother. Asked how much alcohol he had consumed that night, Harstad replied, "nothing," before admitting to having a beer at a bar four hours earlier. A breath test revealed his blood-alcohol level as 0.13.

The trooper arrested Harstad and took him to St. Croix County jail, where Harstad provided a blood sample under his brother's name. He later admitted to giving his brother's name. Asked why, he said "because he missed him," the complaint states.

The complaint documents Harstad's previous drunken-driving convictions, which date back to 1989. He received five more convictions in the 1990s; his most recent conviction was in 2006.

A preliminary hearing for the most recent case is set for Feb. 21.

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

(715) 426-1072
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