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Manatee County commissioner to be charged with DUI for April crash

Arraignment is scheduled for July 19.

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — Manatee County Commissioner George Kruse will be charged with a count of driving under the influence after crashing into a tree in a subdivision near his home earlier this spring.

The Manatee County Sheriff's Office had earlier released deputy body camera video to the public following the April 20 crash. Kruse was not arrested at the time but had faced a citation for careless driving. That was dropped in exchange for attending traffic school by mid-August.

But the State Attorney's Office announced on Wednesday that he will be arraigned on a single count of DUI for July 19.

The office released the following statement to the media:

"Due to the public interest shown in the case and in response to our frequent media inquiries about the status of this case, today the State Attorney’s Office announces that an Information is being filed charging George K. Kruse with a single count of Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

"The arraignment is scheduled for July 19, 2022, and in accordance with applicable Florida law, a summons will be issued for George K. Kruse. Please bear in mind all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The State Attorney’s Office will not be making any comments while this case is pending."

Kruse, 46, and his wife can be seen on body camera video sitting in the back of an SUV and talking to a deputy questioning them about what happened. Kruse told the deputy he crashed his Ford F-150 into a tree around 7:30 p.m.

Kruse was slurring his words while responding to the questions being thrown at him, according to investigators. An incident report described the county commissioner as confused and having "glassy eyes, slurred speech, clammy wet skin, and droopy eyelids."

"He’s drunk,” the responding deputy is heard saying in the video. “I just can’t do a DUI because no one can put him behind the wheel. When I got here, he was in his wife’s car.”

The incident reports state two different reasons were given for the crash. Kruse originally told law enforcement he was trying to avoid a crash with another driver, but authorities say Kruse told his insurance company he swerved to avoid an animal.

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