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Iowa state lawmaker arrested on suspicion of drunken driving

January 19, 2018

This booking photo released by the Story County Jail, shows Francis "Chip" Baltimore. State Rep. Chip Baltimore, a Republican from Boone whose legal first name is Francis, was arrested early Friday, Jan 19, 2018, in Ames, Iowa, on suspicion of drunken driving and possessing a firearm while under the influence, following a report his vehicle was weaving between lanes in the early morning hours. (Story County Jail via AP)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa state lawmaker was arrested early Friday on suspicion of drunken driving and possessing a firearm while under the influence, following a report his vehicle was weaving between lanes in the early morning hours.

Rep. Chip Baltimore, a Republican from Boone whose legal first name is Francis, was driving in Ames near Interstate 35 when he was stopped shortly after 3:30 a.m., according to Ames Police Sgt. Mike Arkovich.

Arkovich said a police radio received a report around the time of a car driving “recklessly” in the area. An officer then spotted the vehicle, driven by Baltimore, and initiated a traffic stop.

Baltimore, 51, recorded a blood alcohol level of 0.147 percent. The blood alcohol limit for drivers in Iowa is 0.08 percent.

Arkovich said a pistol was also found under the driver’s seat. He said Baltimore has a permit to carry, but it became void because of his high blood alcohol level.

Baltimore was cited for a failure to maintain lanes, according to Arkovich, and booked into the Story County Jail. The lawmaker faces charges of first offense operating while intoxicated and possession or carrying a firearm while under the influence. He was released from jail Friday afternoon.

A phone number listed to Baltimore’s home is not accepting messages. He did not immediately return an email left Friday.

House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, the top Republican in the House, said in a statement: “Drunk driving is unacceptable behavior for anyone, let alone a state legislator. We will work through this issue and take appropriate action quickly. We will also work with Rep. Baltimore to get him the help and support that he needs at this time.”

Baltimore, an attorney, is serving his fourth term as a state representative. He is chairman of the House judiciary committee, a legislative body that has advanced legislation in recent years to add more penalties for individuals arrested for drunken driving.

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This version corrects spelling of Baltimore’s first name to Francis from Frances.

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