64-year-old Danny Lee Bettcher, of New York Mills, Minnesota, just didn’t learn his lesson the first time…or the second, or the third. In fact, he was recently arrested again for an offense he had committed at least 27 times prior – drinking and driving. Sobriety court didn’t help him, and law enforcement officials believe his record is likely “a record” that will be difficult for anyone in the state to match.
Bettcher was charged in Otter Tail County District Court with felony drunk driving after refusing to submit to a field sobriety test. He already had a valid yet restricted driver’s license at the time he was pulled over and is now behind bars on a $100,000 bail awaiting a court date on Halloween-eve, commonly referred to as Devil’s Night, Oct. 30th.
Assistant County Attorney Jacob Thomason stated if Bettcher is convicted this time around, he will receive more than an order for sobriety court. The maximum sentence is seven years. He will spend the majority of this time in prison, then be released under supervision. He will also receive another five years on probation.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like substance abuse treatment is going to be any help for Bettcher. He has been ordered to treatment more than a dozen times, and his criminal history includes spending four years in prison for a prior drunken driving offense. Not to mention that when appearing in the courtroom back in 2010 for his 27th arrest, Bettcher, a construction worker and handyman, stated simply, “I drink to get drunk.” Bettcher had not only been arrested in his home state, but in North Dakota and Nebraska as well, and has even gone by several different aliases.
This time, Bettcher was hauled off in handcuffs after he left the VFW in New York Mills, where he had been intoxicated. A police report of the incident stated an off-duty sheriff’s deputy was in the VFW at the time he was drinking, and the handyman’s notorious reputation made him an easy target. The deputy alerted authorities when Bettcher got behind the wheel of his vehicle. Obviously not in the right state of mind, Bettcher ignored a stop sign and drove extremely slow, between ten and fifteen miles per hour on a highway, swerving the whole time.
Police pulled him over and reported the man’s eyes were bloodshot and watery. A beer can was tucked behind the passenger seat. The responding officer asked for Bettcher’s driver’s license and he produced a health identification card. He was forced to hunt down the actual license and immediately noted it was restricted. Specifically, the card included “a restriction that any use of alcohol or drugs invalidates the license.” Bettcher refused to take a breathalyzer test and had to put his hands on the squad car to steady himself. “I am way over,” he said. “Take me to jail.”
Bettcher attempted to challenge fines he owed to the court for a previous conviction and in this paperwork, filed in 2014, he noted he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder in connection with his military service. He also noted in the filing, which was written from prison, “I’m trying to get my life back on track before I am released.”