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Trooper who arrested Louser said he witnessed erratic driving, smelled alcohol

Trooper who arrested Louser said he witnessed erratic driving, smelled alcohol

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The Highway Patrol trooper who arrested North Dakota House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Louser for drunken driving last week observed Louser's vehicle cross the center line "several times" on Expressway between Mandan and Bismarck before pulling him over, the agency said Monday.

The trooper also smelled alcohol on Louser after stopping him shortly before 1 a.m. Friday, according to the summary the patrol provided the Tribune. It said the Minot Republican cooperated with the officer and agreed to field sobriety tests, though it did not specify what those tests were.

The trooper determined Louser was under the influence of alcohol and took him to the Burleigh Morton Detention Center. A sergeant there on Saturday said Louser was not taken to the jail, so no booking photo was taken. Patrol spokesman Sgt. Wade Kadrmas on Monday said Louser was taken to the jail for testing.

"It is currently standard practice to release nonviolent misdemeanor offenders on a promise-to-appear bond, which is what was done in this case, so he wouldn’t have been booked into jail," Kadrmas told the Tribune. He added that "Louser was released to a responsible party after testing and after he signed a promise to appear."

Kadrmas declined to release Louser's blood alcohol content, any trooper dashboard video of the arrest or any other details, citing the ongoing investigation, which he said had been turned over to the Burleigh County State's Attorney's Office. Kadrmas referred requests for more information to State's Attorney Julie Lawyer.

Lawyer also declined to release any more information, citing the "open investigation/prosecution." Her office did not immediately file charges against Louser.

It wasn't clear where Louser was coming from the morning he was arrested or who might have been with him. Louser on Monday told the Tribune he's not commenting outside of a statement he released Saturday, in which he said "transparency and accountability in public service has become increasingly important in our society."

"I have begun taking what I believe to be the necessary next steps including an evaluation process. I want to apologize to those close to me, the residents of District 5, my colleagues in the state Capitol and to so many others for any disappointment this may have caused," he said. "Finally, as I work to rebuild any lost trust, I want to ensure that something like this will never happen again."

Louser, 49, a Realtor, has been a state lawmaker since 2011.

The only other listing for Louser in state court records is a vehicle registration violation from 2020. He paid a $20 fine for the citation.

“Everybody makes a mistake. This is his first one,” House Majority Leader Chet Pollert, R-Carrington, said of Louser's DUI arrest. "If he had a history of it, it’d be a different deal, but he doesn’t have a history of that, and I think folks like us should be willing to give him a break.”

Pollert noted that Louser said he is pursuing an evaluation.

“Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt,” Pollert said.

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