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Doctor appears in court on DWI charges

By Staff | Sep 22, 2008

A North Mankato doctor arrested for DWI while on his way to work at United Hospital District made his first court appearance Monday in Blue Earth.

Michael Louis Sparacino, 51, appeared in Faribault County District Court with his attorney Mark Betters of Mankato.

The doctor’s initial hearing scheduled in July was delayed when he entered treatment at the Menninger Center in Houston, Texas.

Betters says his client completed the in-patient program about three weeks ago.

“He’s interested in resolving this and taking responsibility. His goal is to resolve this in reasonable fashion from the circumstances surrounding it,” Betters says. “He wants to put this behind him.”

Sparacino is charged with third-degree driving while intoxicated/alcohol and third-degree DWI/.08/ within two hours. Both counts carry a maximum penalty of one year and a $3,000 fine. He also faces a traffic impeding-slow speed charge, which is a misdemeanor and has a $300 fine.

At the hearing, Sparacino waived his right to have an omnibus hearing held within 28 days.

Judge Douglas Richards informed the defendant of his legal rights, that include a jury trial, to confront and subpoena witnesses.

Sparacino was released on his personal recognizance and must keep his attorney informed of his whereabouts. He also was instructed to abstain from the use of alcohol and other mood-altering chemicals, unless prescribed by a licensed physician.

The charges stem from a traffic stop on May 15 in which Sparacino was impeding traffic on Highway 169, says a court complaint.

After pulling Sparacino over, police officer Tim Dirkes reportedly smelled alcohol.

The complaint says the doctor admitted he had consumed a couple of alcoholic beverages, and his eyes appeared bloodshot and glazed.

Sparacino told the officer he was going to work at the emergency room at United Hospital, says the complaint.

A preliminary breath test showed the doctor had a blood-alcohol level of .265. Results of a breath test two hours later at the Faribault County Jail showed a blood-alcohol content of .24.