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Gordon Allen Arntson

2 adults charged with driving drunk, kids in car in Hubbard County

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Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

A dubious distinction achieved in 2010 appears to be perpetuating itself in Hubbard County - adults being pulled over for suspected drunken driving with kids in the vehicle.

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Last summer, four mothers were arrested in the county. All were legally drunk. Some even registered twice the legal alcohol limits on breath tests. All were convicted. At least two were still working with Social Services to get their children back months later.

One little boy was injured when his mom was involved in a drunken crash south of Bemidji last summer. She came through the accident unscathed.

Flash to 2011.

Over Memorial Day, two more adults were pulled over for alcohol-related crimes.

On May 28 around 11 p.m., Hubbard County Dep. Bill Schlag observed a pickup pulling out of the Eagles Club parking lot in Park Rapids. As the vehicle turned onto Highway 34 Schlag observed "two young children in the back of the vehicle not in child restraints." He pulled the vehicle over.

Behind the wheel was Gordon Allen Arntson, 47, of Hitterdahl, according to the report.

"While speaking to Arntson, Schlag asked Arntson how much he had drank and Arntson replied, 'too much,'" the report states.

"Schlag noticed glassy eyes and a strong odor of alcoholic beverage," the complaint states. A field breath test showed an alcohol concentration of .275 percent.

"The children in the vehicle were about five (5) years of age," the complaint noted.

Arntson's driving record indicated his driving privileges were canceled Inimical to Public Safety.

Arntson has a lengthy record of traffic offenses, including at least two DWI convictions and numerous charges of Driving After Cancellation.

The following day, Jessica Marie Campbell, 27, of Fosston, was arrested on Highway 2 just after 7 p.m.

Highway Patrol Trooper Mike Engum reported the vehicle "swerving side to side driving down the center of the road."

The trooper followed the Ford Explorer "observing the vehicle to straddle the lane markings driving down the center of the road," the report states.

He observed the vehicle "weave across the land and over the fog line."

He turned on his lights and Campbell allegedly exited the Explorer.

The trooper noted "an odor of alcohol, slurred speech and glassy, watery eyes while speaking to Campbell," his report states. Field sobriety tests yielded a .1497 alcohol concentration.

"In the vehicle riding with Campbell were three children ages 5, 6 & 8," the report notes.

An open beer was found.

Campbell was taken to the Beltrami County jail, where a breath test showed a .12 percent reading.

Both defendants have made initial appearances in Hubbard County District Court. Both will appear again June 20. Bail has been set in both cases.

Arntson is charged with two counts of Second Degree DWI and Driving After Cancellation, each punishable by a maximum of 1 year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine upon conviction.

Campbell is charged with two counts of Third Degree DWI, Child Endangerment and Open Container. The first three charges are each punishable by a maximum of 1 year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine upon conviction. The Open Container charge carries a maximum of 90 days and/or a $1,000 fine.

Assistant Hubbard County Attorney Jonathan Frieden is prosecuting both cases.

"Enforcement, of course is important and from our end we'll continue to prosecute," he said.

"Education always has huge role in that. When we enforce these hopefully people out in the community see how much they have to lose," he added. "We'll definitely keep looking at other areas that we might improve on, absolutely."

"It is alarming," said Sara Bowles, the county's chemical dependency coordinator. "Unfortunately poor decision making is one of the many effects of alcohol use."

Bowles worries that alcohol use "especially in social situations is a norm in our community as it is in many others.  

"Yet in one of our Hubbard County school districts, the results from the Minnesota Student Survey showed that 44 percent of the 9th graders surveyed stated that alcohol use by a family member repeatedly caused family health, job or legal problems. That is 4 percent higher than among youth in juvenile institutions," she added.

"That statistic is very alarming."

Alcohol use and abuse "has generational repercussions," Bowles said. "The only way to stop it is to expect and encourage people to make better choices. Parents can give up having a drink when they are driving around with such precious cargo as their children."

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Sarah Smith
Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.
(218) 732-3364
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