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ND tax commissioner gets probation in plea deal for DUI

Ryan Rauschenberger

BISMARCK -- North Dakota Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger will serve almost a year of unsupervised probation under a plea agreement reached last week for his drunk driving arrest.

Rauschenberger was arrested by a Highway Patrol officer late last month in Mandan for driving under the influence of alcohol, a Class B misdemeanor. A breath test indicated he had a .206 percent blood alcohol content, more than twice the legal limit.

The plea agreement was signed by the 34-year-old Republican tax commissioner, his attorney and Morton County Assistant State’s Attorney Austin Gunderson on Wednesday, Oct. 25, and approved by a Morton County district judge a day later.

Rauschenberger’s 10-day jail sentence will be suspended for 360 days, and he’ll be on unsupervised probation during that time. He’ll pay $1,250 in fines and fees and obtain a chemical dependency evaluation within three months.

Rauschenberger’s initial appearance, scheduled for Tuesday, was canceled. He faced a minimum $750 fine and at least two days’ imprisonment because his BAC level made it an aggravated first offense under state law.

Rauschenberger had previously admitted to problems with alcohol and took a leave of absence in 2014 to seek professional help. In disclosing the arrest this month, Rauschenberger said he had been doing better but had “let his guard down,” adding that he would go back into treatment with a new counselor but wouldn’t go on leave.

Gov. Doug Burgum previously expressed support for Rauschenberger “as he pursues his path to recovery.”

Rauschenberger, first appointed by former Gov. Jack Dalrymple to finish Cory Fong’s term in 2014, would be up for reelection just weeks after his probation ends. He said Monday that he’ll likely make a decision about his future in the next couple of months.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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