New Bern’s mayor is facing two additional charges in connection with an alleged driving while impaired incident that occurred May 6 in Havelock.
According to court papers, Lee Wilson Bettis Jr. was indicted by a grand jury last week on two counts of misdemeanor child abuse. Documents allege his stepchildren, then ages 13 and 9, were riding in a vehicle with him at the time he was charged with DWI.
Bettis was arrested Tuesday and was released on a written promise to appear in court, according to a New Bern Police Department official.
Records show Bettis, 48, already faces one count of driving while impaired, one count of reckless driving to endanger, a charge of failure to maintain lane control and a designated lane violation in connection with the May 6 incident. The first-term mayor was charged after motorists called 911 to report that someone was driving erratically on N.C. 101.
One motorist followed Bettis from N.C. 101 onto U.S. 70, through town and past the Havelock Walmart.
Bettis ultimately was stopped by Havelock police. Based on the manner in which he was observed operating his vehicle and after several field sobriety tests, Bettis was charged with DWI.
At the time, the mayor agreed to take a Breathalyzer test, which is used to measure blood alcohol level. It registered 0.00 percent. Bettis also consented to a blood test, which was analyzed by the State Bureau of Investigation to determine whether he had alcohol or any other controlled substance in his system.
The blood test found no evidence of alcohol, but did find Benzodiazepine, a prescription psychoactive drug commonly used in treating anxiety, insomnia and seizures.
Attorney Bill Powers with Powers McCartan, PLLC, of Charlotte, has been hired to handle the case. Powers declined to make a statement.
New Bern attorney Marc Chesnutt said he no longer represents Bettis, who also is an attorney.
A special prosecutor, Isaac Avery III of Raleigh, is handling the Bettis case.
Bettis is scheduled to be in court Sept. 17 on the two misdemeanor charges, according to court papers. He is due in court on Oct. 3 on the other charges, records show.