An East Grand Forks City Council member was arrested late last week and is charged with a DWI and refusing to submit to a breathalyzer.
East Grand Forks police claim Tim Johnson, who represents the north-central portion of the city on the council, smelled like an alcoholic beverage, was slurring his speech, and seemed disoriented when he was questioned by an officer who was called to investigate “an individual in his vehicle” at the bus loop at Sacred Heart School shortly after 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 26.
Johnson, 71, told police he was “just loaded” and “probably” had consumed too much to be driving, according to a summons filed this week in Polk County District Court. Police say the council member refused a field sobriety test, and Cpl. Jacob Thompson claimed it would not have been safe to conduct one anyway because Johnson, who later reportedly fell into a snowbank on the way to Thompson’s squad car, was “unable” to stand on his own.
Thompson arrested Johnson, who is charged with fourth-degree driving while impaired. At the East Grand Forks police station, Johnson “eventually became belligerent and ended a slurred incomprehensible rant by saying ‘(expletive) you’ approximately seven or eight times,” according to court filings.
Attempts to reach Johnson on Wednesday and Thursday were unsuccessful. His first court appearance is scheduled for March 31. Minnesota court records indicate Johnson was convicted in Polk County of a DWI in 2001.
City Council President Mark Olstad did not return Herald requests for comment on Thursday.
Johnson was first elected to the council in 2019. He drove a sanitation truck for the city from 1990 through 2012, according to staff at East Grand Forks City Hall. At Tuesday's council meeting, Johnson said he would make "some announcements" in the coming weeks.
There is no provision in East Grand Forks city code that would call for Johnson to be reprimanded or otherwise punished, especially while his innocence is presumed as his case works its way through the legal system.
The Herald's Hannah Shirley contributed to this report