South Dakota AG got speeding ticket days before deadly crash trial

Midwest

FILE – In this Feb. 23, 2014, file photo Jason Ravnsborg speaks in Sioux Falls, S.D. Ravnsborg was distracted before he drove onto a highway shoulder where he struck and killed a pedestrian in September, state Secretary of Public Safety Craig Price said Monday Nov. 2, 2020. Price said 55-year-old Joseph Boever was walking on the side of the road and displaying some type of light on the night of Sept. 12 when he was struck by Ravnsborg’s 2011 Ford Taurus. (AP Photo/Dirk Lammers, File)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota’s attorney general was ticketed for going 57 in a 35 mph zone last week, just days before he faced trial on traffic charges in a fatal car crash last year.

Jason Ravnsborg, the state’s top law enforcement officer, received a ticket late Sunday in Hughes County, where he lives. He was charged with “Speeding on Other Roadways” — a second-degree misdemeanor — and fined $177.50. Dakota News Now first reported the ticket. Ravnsborg has not paid the fine or admitted guilt.

On Thursday, the attorney general pleaded no contest to a pair of second-degree misdemeanors for a crash last year that killed a man walking on a rural highway. He avoided jail time but had to pay over $4,500 in fees.

Ravnsborg was not charged with speeding in the fatal crash. Prosecutors said he was going two miles over the 65 mph speed limit at the time of impact, but they decided that didn’t justify a traffic charge. Instead, they charged him with making an illegal lane change, using a phone while driving and careless driving. Prosecutors dropped the charge of careless driving as part of the plea deal.

Before the crash last year, Ravnsborg had accumulated eight traffic tickets over seven years, including six speeding tickets in different counties. However, he was not in danger of losing his driver’s license.

The attorney general’s chief of staff, Tim Bormann, declined to comment on the ticket, saying it was a personal matter for Ravnsborg. Mike Deaver, who has been acting as Ravnsborg’s spokesman, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Prosecutors said Ravnsborg was on his phone roughly one minute before last year’s crash, but phone records showed it was locked at the moment of impact. Ravnsborg told investigators that the last thing he remembered before the crash was turning off the radio and looking down at his speedometer.

Gov. Kristi Noem has renewed pressure to force the attorney general from office, even as he has repeatedly defended his job performance. After the trial concluded last week, she said she would hand over the crash investigation file to the House speaker to consider impeachment charges.

Rep. Will Mortensen, a freshman Republican legislator from Hughes County, had introduced impeachment proceedings in February. But impeachment quickly stalled in the House, and lawmakers said they would revisit the matter after the trial concluded. Mortensen said lawmakers were still considering whether to move forward with impeachment.

“I continue to be hopeful that the attorney general will step down,” he said.

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