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Man facing 20th DWI to remain in custody

Paul Garay

A St. Paul man picked up for his 20th DWI offense in Newport over the holiday weekend was taken into Minnesota Department of Corrections custody Monday for an unrelated parole violation.

Paul D. Garay, 55, was arrested on Christmas Eve after a Newport police officer saw his car stuck in a snow bank along the ramp from northbound Highway 61 to northbound Interstate 494, and tested him for alcohol, according to the Washington County District Court complaint. A portable breath test showed Garay had a blood alcohol level of 0.167, according to the complaint. That is more than twice the legal limit.

Garay appeared in Washington County District Court Monday morning. He cannot be charged with felony drunken driving because most of his prior convictions occurred more than a decade ago, but he will be held without bail on a parole violation for a drug conviction. When that sentence is up his bail will be $24,000 for charges in connection with the alleged drunken driving incident, Judge Mary Hannon ruled.

Newport city prosecutor Fritz Knaak said he was satisfied with the outcome of Monday's court appearance.

"We got about as severe and meaningful bail as we could've expected," Knaak said. "I don't expect him to be released anytime soon."

The judge also gave Garay the option of posting $6,000 bail and agreeing to wear a device that monitors his blood alcohol level.

Knaak called the event "doubly tragic" because Garay told police it followed seven years of sobriety.

"I know I screwed up," Garay told the state trooper who arrested him, the court complaint says.