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North Dakota K-12 leader Kirsten Baesler avoids jail time for DUI

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North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler spoke with The Forum Wednesday, March 4, about her driving under the influence arrest that unfolded Feb. 26 in Bismarck, as well as her plans to seek treatment while continue her work for the state. Jeremy Turley/ Forum News Service
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BISMARCK — North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler will avoid jail time for driving under the influence.

The 50-year-old pleaded guilty on Thursday, March 12, to the misdemeanor charge in Burleigh County District Court. Judge John Grinsteiner sentenced her to 10 days in jail, all of which will be suspended if she doesn’t violate the conditions of her 360 day probation.

Baesler was arrested Feb. 26 in Bismarck along Interstate 94 after a state trooper noticed the vehicle she was driving swerved multiple times. She refused to submit to a chemical test, the North Dakota Highway Patrol said.

Prosecutors in North Dakota are allowed under state law to seek a DUI or refusal charge for first-time offenders, but not both, Burleigh County Assistant State’s Attorney Tessa Vaagen said.

Baesler, who oversees K-12 education in North Dakota, plans to seek reelection in November for an office she has held since 2012. Minot resident Charles Tuttle and Underwood, N.D., School Superintendent Brandt Dick have announced they also will run for her seat.

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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