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Elkhorn man in court for 7th OWI

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Pedro Oliveira Jr.
June 11, 2009
— An Elkhorn man who served jail time for crashing an airplane into a Milwaukee neighborhood while flying drunk in 2005 was bound over for trial Wednesday on a new charge of operating while intoxicated.

David J. Betts, 41, of 103 E. Rockwell St., Elkhorn, appeared in Walworth County Court on a charge of seventh-offense drunken driving and two counts of felony bail jumping. All three charges stem from an April 29 incident.


Betts made headlines in 2005 after flying drunk and crashing into power lines in the Riverwest neighborhood in Milwaukee. One neighbor said the plane landed 10 feet from his daughter's bedroom, but no one was hurt.


The new charges were filed after Betts attempted to visit an inmate at the Walworth County Jail on April 29 while drunk, according to the criminal complaint.


Sgt. Robert Hall noticed Betts had a strong odor of intoxicants on his breath, slowed and slurred speech and poor balance and motor skills. A preliminary breath test revealed Betts had a blood alcohol content of 0.393, which is nearly five times the legal limit to drive, according to the complaint.


Betts was arrested on seventh-offense drunken driving after admitting he drove to the jail, according to the criminal complaint.


Being drunk April 29 violated bond conditions imposed on two earlier alcohol-related cases—an April 2008 fifth-offense drunken driving charge and an August 2008 bail-jumping charge filed because Betts was drunk when he appeared in court on the April drunken-driving case, according to court documents. In both cases, bond conditions where imposed prohibiting Betts from drinking alcohol.


Steven Madson, Walworth County assistant district attorney, said the seventh-offense drunken driving charge could be amended to an eighth offense if the prosecution is able to retrieve documents from a 1991 case.


"Part of the problem is that they are from other jurisdictions," Madson said.


He said the case is about protecting the public.


"Protecting the public is a valid concern, punishment is a valid concern and rehabilitation of the defendant, which is a primary need when you're talking this type of offense," Madson said.


Betts is scheduled for arraignment Tuesday, June 23. He remains locked in the Walworth County Jail on a cash bond.



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