HELENA — Federal prosecutors on Friday charged state Sen. Shannon Augare with drunken driving, obstructing a peace officer and reckless driving after the Browning Democrat allegedly told a sheriff's deputy last month that he had no jurisdiction to arrest him and fled a traffic stop.
The charges are misdemeanors. If convicted, Augare would face penalties of between nine and 15 months in prison and up to $1,800 in fines.
The U.S. attorney's office has requested a court summons be issued for Augare, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Fehr.
Augare did not return a call for comment Friday. Blackfeet tribal attorney Sandra Watts also did not return a call for comment.
Augare, who is a member of the governing Blackfeet Tribal Business Council, was pulled over May 26 on U.S. Highway 2 on the Blackfeet reservation after the Glacier County Sheriff's Office received calls of an erratic driver.
Augare had been drinking in a Cut Bank bar earlier in the evening with his family and left the bar with his mother, an FBI affidavit filed with the charging documents said.
During the traffic stop, Augare identified himself, said the deputy had no jurisdiction and that he was going to leave.
State and county officials generally don't have jurisdiction to arrest an enrolled tribal member within the boundaries of a reservation.
The deputy ordered Augare to turn off the ignition, and the officer reached in and placed the gear shift into park, according to the FBI affidavit.
The deputy tried to grab the keys and told Augare, "You are highly intoxicated," the affidavit said.
Augare revved his engine in response and a second deputy pulled the first officer back as Augare sped off, the affidavit said.
The second deputy wrote in his report the first deputy could have been dragged down the road if he was still in the vehicle.
The deputies called Blackfeet law enforcement, and two tribal officers eventually found the pickup truck off the highway, parked behind some grain bins.
Augare and his mother had switched places, with his mother in the driver's seat, and the keys were no longer in the ignition, the affidavit said.
The officers did not conduct any breathalyzer or sobriety tests but gave the pair a ride home, according to the affidavit.
The sheriff's office turned the case over to the Blackfeet tribal justice system. Chief tribal prosecutor Carl Pepion said Thursday he asked the U.S. attorney's office to review the case.
Federal prosecutors are pursuing charges under the federal Assimilated Crimes Act, which allows them to apply state laws to offenses committed in Indian country that are not specifically addressed in federal law.
The three misdemeanor charges identified in the warrant application all fall under the Montana code.