Tests show New Bern mayor did not have alcohol in his system when pulled for DWI

Published: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 04:55 PM.

The Havelock officer who stopped Bettis asked him to perform heel-to-toe and balance sobriety tests. Bettis said in May that he advised the officer that he was unable to keep his balance because of hip replacement surgery he underwent in November. An ambulance arrived, and a breath test came back negative for alcohol.

On May 6, Bettis was stopped by Havelock police who received a couple of 911 calls from motorists concerned about his driving. One motorist followed Bettis from N.C. 101 onto U.S. 70, through town and past the Havelock Walmart, reporting to police that the van that Bettis was driving was “everywhere” on the road and had crossed the white lines on West Main Street and U.S. 70 “100 times.”

Based on the manner that Bettis was observed operating the vehicle and after conducting several field sobriety tests, police arrested him for DWI. He also was charged with failure to maintain lane control and failure to obey highway markings.

Bettis consented to a blood test, which was analyzed by the SBI for alcohol and any other controlled substance. Bettis registered 0.00 percent on the Breathalyzer, which measures blood alcohol level.

He was taken before a magistrate, who found probable cause to issue a warrant for DWI, and then was released.

“I’m surprised,” Chesnutt said. “With just a field test and no quantitative testing they could even charge me. It does not help you to be a public figure and get arrested on something that has no affect on you.”

Chesnutt said he was also surprised the state had hired special counsel to try the case at taxpayers’ expense.

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