Koch arrested for driving drunk | Crime & Courts

Koch arrested for driving drunk | Crime & Courts

Lee Koch, interim director of the Rochester Art Center, says the center hopes to be in "an expanding position" as early as next year.

Jerry Olson, for the Post Bulletin

Lee Koch, the interim director of the Rochester Art Center whose departure from that position was announced Friday, was arrested a month ago for driving with an alcohol concentration of 0.21 while drinking a glass of wine.

The Post Bulletin learned of the arrest and Koch's subsequent conviction Friday afternoon.

According to court documents in the case, she pleaded guilty Nov. 21 to operating a motor vehicle with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 within two hours, a gross misdemeanor.

In exchange for the plea, additional charges of gross misdemeanor driving while impaired and misdemeanor open bottle law were dismissed.

Koch, 61, immediately was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to complete chemical dependency evaluation/treatment and comply with the Ignition Interlock Program. She also was fined $565.

The program, available to certain DUI offenders, is a device the size of a hand-held calculator and includes a blowing tube. It prevents a vehicle from starting if it detects a certain alcohol concentration level after the driver blows into the tube. The device is installed near the steering wheel and connected to the engine.

Koch was given a stay of imposition, which reduces the case to a misdemeanor upon successful completion of probation.

She was arrested about 6 p.m. Nov. 6, after a Minnesota State Patrol officer saw a southbound vehicle driving about 5 feet into the right shoulder, completely straddling the right fog line on U.S. Highway 52 near 85th Street Northwest.

The officer got behind the car, which continued to drive down the shoulder.

The officer activated his emergency lights, and the vehicle moved into the right lane, slowing to about 55 mph. After the car passed the exit ramp to 75th Street Northwest, he activated his siren.

The driver — later identified as Koch — still didn't stop, the complaint says, so the officer flashed his spotlight on the car and yelled over his loudspeaker for the driver to pull over.

The vehicle pulled to the right shoulder just north of the exit ramp to 65th Street Northwest and stopped.

As the officer approached the car, he saw that Koch, who listed an address in St. Paul, had a clear glass of "a clear liquid and ice cubes that she was placing on the floor of the vehicle," court documents say.

When the patrolman asked what was in the glass, Koch said it was wine and allegedly admitted she'd been drinking it while driving.

The report notes Koch had the odor of alcohol, slurred speech and glassy eyes; as a result, the officer had her perform field sobriety tests.

She failed, the complaint says, and a preliminary breath test registered a reading of 0.201. The legal limit to drive in Minnesota is 0.08.

Koch was arrested; another breath test administered about an hour later at the Adult Detention Center indicated a reading of 0.21.

Koch served as interim director of the embattled Rochester Art Center for the past year; she notified the board about two weeks ago of her intent to accept a job at the Bakken Museum in Minneapolis, according to a story Friday in the Post Bulletin.