Jason W. Wetteland, 39, of Charlton Massachusetts plead not guilty in Newburyport District Court on Monday August 3rd to what was at least his 10th drunken-driving charge and 6th DWI conviction. He nearly struck another car while swerving across heavy traffic while he had a bottle of brandy between his legs. Under Melanie’s Law the incident caused Wettland’s license to be revoked for the rest of his life. However, when he was arrested, he was already driving on a suspended Mass. license. This incident shows what a powerful disease alcohol addiction is.
Mr. Wetteland obviously has a serious and untreated alcohol addiction. Because of his alcohol addiction, he appears to be someone who is too sick to drive. Critics of the Registry will undoubtedly point to this incident as a failure of the system. However, the Registry is not to blame and tougher laws or longer license suspensions would not have helped. The Registry had already suspended Mr. Wetteland’s license. He drove anyways. Perhaps if he was getting on-going treatment for his alcoholism, the result would have been different. Perhaps if Wetteland had an ignition interlock device installed in his vehicle, he would not have been able to start it and the incident would have been prevented. Unfortunately, the political fallout form cases such as this can make it very difficult for someone with a couple of DWIs on his or her record to get a hardship license and support his or her family.