Carlton County attorney accused of DWICarlton County Attorney Thom Pertler was arrested Tuesday afternoon on suspicion of drunken driving and was booked into the St. Louis County Jail.
By: Mark Stodghill, Duluth News Tribune
Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler was arrested Tuesday afternoon on suspicion of drunken driving and was booked into the St. Louis County Jail.
Pertler was pulled over as he entered Duluth on state Highway 61 after authorities received reports of a possible drunken driver, according to state and county law enforcement officials.
“I can tell you that we received a couple of driving complaints on him,” State Patrol Sgt. Curt Mowers said at 2:30 p.m. “A trooper found him and stopped him based on the driver’s conduct. … He was arrested.”
Mowers said the traffic stop was made at 12:30 p.m. on Highway 61 in St. Louis County. St. Louis County Sheriff Ross Litman said a member of his office told him Pertler was southbound on Highway 61 when someone in the Knife River area reported he was driving erratically. He said the traffic stop was made at 61st Avenue East in Duluth near the Lester River.
Pertler, 47, is being held in the St. Louis County Jail on charges of refusing to submit to a chemical test of his blood, breath or urine, a gross misdemeanor, and fourth-degree driving while impaired, a misdemeanor.
He told the News Tribune in March that he resigned his position as an adjunct instructor at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in February because he was embarrassed by his inability to communicate with students when he came to class after drinking at a bar with a boyhood friend.
Pertler said he believes his flawed ability to think that night was exacerbated by the pain medication he was taking for an injured shoulder. He said he didn’t have a drinking problem and has never sought chemical dependency counseling.
Pertler joined the Carlton County Attorney’s Office in 1995 and has been the county attorney since 2005. He was one of the attorneys involved in prosecuting the murderers of Paul Antonich and Katie Poirer.
He was an instructor at Fond du Lac from 2000 until Feb. 27. He said a boyhood friend from the Twin Cities called him that day and said he was traveling to Duluth on business and they should get together. Pertler said he and the friend went to a local bar about 4:30 p.m. that day — the Carlton County Courthouse closes at 4 p.m. — and shared two pitchers of beer in about 70 minutes before he drove to the college to address 38 to 40 law enforcement students in a class on Minnesota statutes.
On Feb. 27, he said he phoned a school official and retired Duluth Police Chief Scott Lyons, head of the law enforcement program at the tribal college, and told them of his decision to resign.
“Anybody who says they don’t make mistakes, they’re just telling you a bunch of B.S.,” Pertler said at the time. “I think a person, in my opinion, is better off by owning up to your stuff. … The thing I’d like to try to convey is that in both my professional and personal life, I try to do things right and the bottom line is that if something is up and you know that I’m the person at the helm I’m going to take responsibility, or take credit, if credit is due. I knew what I had to do.”