Judge questioned, released after alcohol-related traffic stop in Hudson
Hudson police on Saturday investigated a possible OWI incident involving a recently resigned St. Croix County judge, who was not arrested or cited in connection with the traffic stop.
Police said that while 71-year-old Judge Eric Lundell registered a preliminary breath test (PBT) that exceeded the legal driving limit, officers didn't first see enough evidence during field-sobriety tests to form probable cause for an OWI arrest. Chief Geoff Willems said PBT results aren't admissible in court and that any charges stemming from Lundell's traffic stop likely would have been thrown out.
Lundell's PBT, which registered 0.129, was taken after the field-sobriety tests, according to reports.
"But you can't then go backwards after the result of a PBT," Willems explained. "That is not due process."
A message left with Lundell by RiverTown Multimedia was not returned Wednesday afternoon.
The judge informed Gov. Scott Walker last month that his resignation will be effective Jan. 1, 2019. No reason was given in his resignation letter.
According to a Hudson police report:
Officers were called at 1 p.m. Dec. 8 to Associated Bank on Crest View Road for a minor crash. A responding officer arrived and witnessed a Ford F-150 attempting to drive through the ATM lanes, where it drove up on the curb, struck a pillar and left the pickup with damage to its side.
The officer motioned for the driver to stop, "however the driver just waived [sic] at me and continued to drive," the report states.
The officer followed the truck and stopped it in front of a business on Webster Street. The driver got out and started to walk toward the police car, where he was told to stay in his vehicle.
The officer identified the driver as Lundell and described him as having bloodshot, slightly glassy eyes and emitting a slight odor of alcohol.
Another officer arrived and also reported smelling "a faint odor of intoxicants" from within the vehicle, the report states.
Lundell admitted to the officer that he had consumed alcohol that day. He then consented to performing field-sobriety testing. One test involving eye movement yielded two of six impairment clues. Lundell told the officer he wasn't comfortable performing the "walk and turn" test due to his age.
Lundell did perform the "one leg" test, which the officer said he failed. However, the officer said the failure didn't meet OWI arrest criteria due to Lundell's age.
"It should be noted that in previous OWI investigations, I have made similar decisions with elderly suspects," officer Luke Radke wrote in his report.
Willems later explained that four clues must be observed in the eye test, two during the walk-and-turn test and two in the one-leg test.
"If you don't have all of them, an arrest is difficult," he said.
Police then issued the breath test before parking Lundell's truck in the Walmart parking lot, where he was instructed to call for a ride home.