A White Earth man was sentenced to more than five years in prison, and must pay over $6,500 in restitution, for his role in a high-speed chase.

Percy Leonard French, 41, of White Earth was sentenced in Becker County District Court for felony DWI and felony fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle.

According to court records, on Nov. 27, 2018, a deputy saw a northbound pickup truck on Richwood Road with a burned-out headlight. He turned to follow and saw that it failed to stop at a stop sign at the intersection of Becker County roads 21 and 34.

The silver 2001 Dodge Ram went north on County Road 34 and the deputy followed it with emergency lights activated. The deputy saw the truck swerve wildly over into the oncoming traffic lane and then it kept speeding up and hitting the brakes when the deputy got close to it.

The truck went through a yard on Lynx Lane and the driver’s door opened and closed, the vehicle then spun out on the driveway of the residence, and the truck ended up in the ditch.

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There were three men in the truck, and the driver jumped out and ran off when the truck went into the ditch, according to court records. The two who remained in the truck gave his name to police officers.

When the police pursuit began, the driver, smaller in stature, was grabbed and physically put in the driver’s seat by French, who was the original driver. That’s why the truck had swerved wildly and was all over the road: the second man didn’t want to be the driver. The other two assumed he would stop and take the blame, but instead he led the officer on the chase.

French appeared in court Nov. 22 before District Judge Jay Carlson, who sentenced him on the DWI charge to 70 months in prison at St. Cloud, and ordered him to pay $6,540 in restitution, a $50 fine and $140 in court fees from his prison earnings.

On the fleeing charge, he was sentenced to 22 months in prison, to be served concurrently with the DWI charge, and was ordered to pay a $50 fine and $125 in court fees. There was no adjudication on a second felony DWI charge, since it was a lesser offense.