Thom Pertler, Carlton County Attorney, is back at work five weeks after 0.234 DUI arrest

Carlton County officials aren't happy with Pertler, but there's little they can do.
Carlton County officials aren't happy with Pertler, but there's little they can do.

-- Thom Pertler, Carlton County Attorney, reportedly blew a ridiculous 0.336
-- Thom Pertler, Carlton County attorney, had nearly empty bottle of vodka in car
-- Thom Pertler, Carlton County attorney, quits teaching gig after showing up to class drunk

Despite two recent incidents where he made a fool himself thanks to drunkenness and a Duluth News Tribune editorial demanding his resignation, Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler returned to work this week.

Pertler is just days removed from completing a treatment program at Hazelden Treatment Center. He checked himself in after he was arrested for DUI last month in Duluth with a blood-alcohol level of 0.234, though he reportedly blew as high as 0.336 in a preliminary breath test. After his July 17 arrest, Pertler didn't even bother to contact other county officials to inform them about his plans for more than a month, raising the public ire of County Auditor Paul Gassert.

In a public statement released this week, Pertler said he's "keenly aware that perfectly good people get in trouble from time to time." Of course, he said almost the same thing in February, when he resigned from his position as an adjunct instructor at Fond de Lac Tribal and Community College after he showed up to class drunk and the school filed a complaint against him.

Following the February incident, a Carlton County blog suggested there's more to the story than Pertler was revealing. He was on pain meds because of a shoulder injury suffered during a car accident in last November. Following the wreck, the driver of the other vehicle brought a conciliation court suit against Pertler, alleging he was responsible. Rumors swirled that Pertler may have been drinking before his November accident, but he denied that he has a drinking or chemical dependency problem even after the teaching-while-drunk fiasco.

"If you want to come pay me a visit any time day or night and bring a PBT [Preliminary Breath Test], have at it," he told the Duluth News Tribune in March. "Seriously, if you want to pay me a visit ... bring it on, bring it on. I'm just being honest with you." Well, cops brought the PBT on July 17, and we saw how that turned out.

About 10 days after his DUI arrest, a Duluth News Tribune editorial called on Pertler "do right by the people of Carlton County... by stepping down as county attorney and by getting the help he apparently needs and is seeking."

But Pertler apparently wants to keep serving, and as an elected official, there isn't much the Carlton County Board can do to remove him from office before the 2014 election. Until then, the residents and staff of Carlton County simply have to hope Pertler is more sincere about staying sober than he was last time around.

Pertler's next court appearance on the DUI charge is scheduled for next month.

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