The president of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce was blackout drunk and had an open bottle of Vodka in his vehicle when he drove through the gate of a parking ramp in September, according to charges.
The incident happened Sept. 20 — a Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. — but Matthew Baumgartner’s not-guilty plea this week prompted widespread media coverage.
The charges state that Duluth police were dispatched to the Medical District Parking Ramp on a report of a man in a Nissan Pathfinder who ran through the gate and was nodding off in his vehicle.
According to the charges:
Baumgartner smelled of alcohol, could barely open his eyes, and was unable to speak when police responded.
He was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital where a blood test revealed a blood alcohol concentration of .295, more than three times the legal limit of .08.
According to the University of Notre Dame, this level of drunkenness can be associated with alcohol poisoning and loss of consciousness.
Baumgartner is facing two gross misdemeanor DWI charges. He has a prior driving while impaired incident on his record from 2017.
Baumgartner addressed the charges in a letter to members Thursday evening, according to Fox 21.
“During the three months since the incident, I asked for help and took a much needed and overdue medical leave to receive counseling from the professionals at Hazelden Betty Ford. Additionally, since the incident and my leave, I have continued working on my mental health and life balance, and I continue to take steps that are making me a better person, leader, husband and dad,” he said.
Baumgartner took over as president in July 2021.