DUI case against Manatee County commissioner returns to court

A Manatee County commissioner has pleaded not guilty to DUI charges following a crash that happened back in April. The commissioner wasn't charged until last month.

Both Commissioner George Kruse and his attorney were previously granted permission not to appear for his arraignment Tuesday. The judge set a court date for August 2.

Although the DUI charge came weeks after the crash, investigators now say he was driving under the influence when it occurred. On Tuesday, that case will go before a judge for an arraignment. 

On April 20, Commissioner Kruse drove his truck into a tree inside his gated community on Greyhawk Boulevard In Bradenton. When a lieutenant arrived on the scene, he told them he had swerved when someone else cut him off.

The responding Manatee County lieutenant said that the day the crash happened, he had no choice but to send Kruse home, despite noticing several signs of what he called obvious impairment.

In his report, the lieutenant made note that Kruse’s eyes were glassy, and his speech was slurred. However, Kruse was not charged that day, mostly because when the lieutenant arrived at the scene, Kruse was in the back of his wife’s car. No one could place the commissioner behind the wheel of his truck.

His wife told deputies she got to the scene quickly as she said she was driving only a few seconds behind her husband.

"Nobody out of the 7 people that stopped here, nobody stayed to say he was in that car. Had that been the case, my traffic units would have been here to work the crash, work the DUI, and he would have gone to jail. Because he was obviously impaired," the Manatee County Lieutenant said to Jessica Kruse on body camera footage following the crash.

PREVIOUS: Video shows aftermath of crash involving Manatee County Commissioner George Kruse

After Kruse crashed, his truck’s collision alert system dialed 911 and started recording. On it, Jessica can be heard directing Kruse into the back of her car, telling the operator it was just a fender bender, and they didn’t need help. Kruse was eventually charged with a DUI at the end of June after investigators had time to review footage and recordings.

Kruse was elected to the board of county commissioners in 2020.