The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Councilman faces charges

Eau Claire City Council member Toby Biegel faces charges of resisting a police officer and operating while intoxicated, third offense, after a traffic stop in Chippewa County Sunday afternoon.

Biegel represents District 3, which encompasses the UW-Eau Claire campus and much of off-campus student housing.

“It’s an unfortunate incident that I’m very embarrassed about.”
Toby Biegel

District 3 City Councilman

State Trooper Jim Campbell pulled Biegel over after receiving reports of his vehicle “wandering from the lane of traffic,” Chippewa County District Attorney Jon Theisen said.

After repeated non-compliance, Campbell employed pepper spray and, with the help of another trooper, removed Biegel from his vehicle, Theisen said.

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After continued refusal to submit to a breathalyzer, Biegel was transported to a hospital and subjected to a forcible blood test, the results of which are still pending, he said.

Biegel expressed embarrassment and regret over the charges, though he alluded that parts of the story have not yet surfaced.

“It’s an unfortunate incident that I’m very embarrassed about … I’m sorry that this incident happened,” he said. “I look forward to the other side of the story that will be coming out.”

Biegel, Theisen said, will receive the same level of legal scrutiny as any other individual.

“Mr. Biegel is not being held to a higher standard,” he said. “I expect Mr. Biegel, as well as any other person in my county, to be reasonably compliant with officers’ requests.”

Under district guidelines as a “refusal” case, Biegel could face up to $2,711 in fines, 110 days in jail, a 30-month driver’s license revocation and the immobilization of his vehicle’s ignition interlock, he said.

Sophomore Megan Callahan said Biegel’s conduct raises questions about his decision-making abilities, even if he is a capable city official.

“Driving while intoxicated is a judgment call,” she said. “Seeing that (Biegel) is the man who’s making judgment doesn’t seem right.”

Biegel’s decision to finish his term to avoid disrupting the city’s handling of a current budget shortfall, she said, may be justified.

“I don’t see the necessity for him to step down,” she said. “But if he’s going to run again, I wouldn’t vote for him knowing that.”

Biegel’s current term on City Council will be up in April 2007.

Nina Albanese-Kotar, director for the Center of Alcohol Studies and Education at Eau Claire, said Biegel should make an effort to discourage students from making the same mistakes.

“I feel bad for him that his reputation has been tarnished,” she said. “I hope he can use what he’s learned.”

She also said Biegel’s repeat offenses demonstrate a need for harsher penalties in Wisconsin.

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Councilman faces charges