Video shows fmr. Hennepin Co. Commissioner Mike Opat asking for break in drunk driving arrest
(FOX 9) - Video from the October drunk driving arrest of former Hennepin County Board Commissioner Mike Opat shows the former public official desperately trying to avoid a trip to the county jail.
"My name doesn’t ring any bells for you?" Opat asked the Dayton Police officer.
"I don’t drop my name often," Opat adds.
"Should it?" the officer replies.
"I was the Hennepin Co. Commissioner for 28 years, so…" Opat said.
"Okay," the officer said flatly.
Opat, 61, pleaded guilty on December 8 to fourth-degree driving while impaired. He received a stayed sentence of 30 days in the workhouse and two years’ supervised probation.
Details of Opat’s behavior during the arrest have not been previously reported.
Dayton Police stopped Opat on October 5 at 9:34 p.m. at 113th and Fernbrook Lane after his vehicle failed to make a full and complete stop.
The officer said he could smell alcohol and Opat had bloodshot and watery eyes, according to the police report.
A preliminary breath test (PBT) showed he had a blood alcohol concentration of .09, just above the legal limit for driving.
The squad car video and a subsequent recording at the Dayton Police Department booking room shows Opat wavered about taking a chemical test, known as DMT, and repeatedly asked the officer about his options.
The officer becomes frustrated after repeating Opat’s options several times. Opat tells the officer he has an attitude.
"I’m not confident in your performance here," Opat tells the officer.
That’s when he asks if the officer recognizes his name.
"I’m not sure undue embarrassment is not exactly what your job description includes," Opat argued.
Michael Opat (Hennepin County Jail)
The officer does not respond.
Opat then asks, "Can I make a phone call to the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department?"
"For what reason?" the officer asks.
"Well, to avoid that (jail). And I’d ask you to consider to have a little humanity here. I’m not a threat to anything. There’s no reason to take me to the Adult Detention Center," Opat said.
"There’s room to…"
But the officer cuts Opat off. "No, there’s not."
Opat’s name dropping and attempt to avoid jail does not appear in the police report or criminal charges.
After refusing the chemical test for a final time, Opat was booked into the Hennepin County Adult Detention Center for third-degree DWI refusal.
The third-degree charge, which carries a maximum sentence of one year of incarceration was dismissed at sentencing.
Opat was first elected to the Hennepin County Board in 1992. For nine years he served as the powerful chair of the County Board.
He left the board in 2020 with two months remaining on his term.
During his tenure, Opat led the reorganization of Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), moving control from the County Board to a nonprofit governing board.
In May 2020 Opat became Chief Business Development and Community Relations Officer for North Memorial Health.
Opat, and his attorney Paul Applebaum, did not return phone calls offering an opportunity to comment.