Details emerge in fire chief's DWI arrest
A breath test indicated Duluth Fire Chief Dennis Edwards Jr. had a blood-alcohol content of 0.22 percent -- more than 2 1/2 times Minnesota's legal limit of 0.08 percent -- according to a criminal complaint obtained by the News Tribune.
A breath test indicated Duluth Fire Chief Dennis Edwards Jr. had a blood-alcohol content of 0.22 percent - more than 2½ times Minnesota’s legal limit of 0.08 percent - according to a criminal complaint obtained by the News Tribune.
Edwards has been placed on administrative leave following his arrest on suspicion of drunken driving.
He was pulled over at about 11:40 p.m. Saturday by a St. Louis County Sheriff’s deputy patrolling on Rice Lake Road near Abbott Road. The officer said he observed an SUV heading north attempt to pass a vehicle in a no-passing zone going up a hill. The vehicle subsequently wandered in the driving lane, according to the complaint.
The complaint states that after pulling Edwards over, “deputies detected a strong odor of alcohol, and the defendant’s eyes were glassy and bloodshot.” They asked Edwards if he had been drinking that night, and he responded: “Yes.”
The deputies asked Edwards to undergo standard field-sobriety tests, and he reportedly performed “poorly.”
They followed up with a preliminary breath test which indicated he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.22 percent. Edwards was placed under arrest and transported to the Public Safety Building, where he was again tested at 1:25 a.m. His blood-alcohol content at that time registered 0.21 percent.
Edwards is scheduled to appear in court at 8:15 a.m. on April 11 before Judge Jill Eichenwald on two counts of driving while impaired in the third degree - one charge based on his initial breath test and the subsequent charge based on the test administered within two hours of his arrest.
If convicted, Edwards could face a maximum sentence on each DWI count of one year of imprisonment and/or $3,000 fine.
When asked to respond to details in the criminal complaint filed against Edwards Wednesday, Noah Schuchman, Duluth’s chief administrative officer, said: “The city of Duluth is reviewing the St. Louis County Sheriff’s report as part of our internal investigation. I have no further comment at this time.”
However, Edwards was immediately placed on administrative leave Sunday, and Schuchman issued a statement Monday, saying he was aware of the incident and that “The city of Duluth takes these things very seriously.” Schuchman went on to announce that Deputy Fire Chief Shawn Krizaj will serve as Duluth’s acting fire chief until further notice, as the city completes an investigation.
Edwards could not be reached for comment.