Sunday November 25, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A city man with six previous drunken driving convictions is being held without bail this weekend after pleading not guilty to his seventh drunken driving charge on Friday in Central Berkshire District Court.

Douglas Hawley, 52, of Brown Street, is being held pending a dangerousness hearing scheduled for this Wednesday. If he’s determined to be a threat to himself or others, he can be held without bail for up to 90 days. Besides the felony drunken driving charge, Hawley is also facing a single count of driving with a revoked license.

He was arrested by the Mass achusetts State Police on Wednesday at about 11:30 a.m. in Pittsfield. A trooper saw Hawley holding on to his Kia sedan for support before stumbling into a city package store where he purchased an 18-pack of beer and then drove down the middle of the road after leaving the parking lot, according to a police report. The trooper ran the car’s registration and learned Hawley had his license revoked as a habitual traffic offender.

After being pulled over, Hawley denied he had been drinking that morning, telling the officer the only thing he had consumed was two cups of coffee. He did admit he was drinking the night before, according to the report.

Police allege that Hawley was unsteady on his feet, had slurred speech and failed several field sobriety tests.

After being arrested and taken to the Cheshire barracks for booking, Hawley passed out and was taken to the hospital for observation, police said. He was later returned to the station, booked and held until Friday’s arraignment.

According to police, Hawley’s other drunken driving convictions go back to 1982. From that year until 1989, Hawley racked up six drunken driving convictions. Three were from Westfield and the rest were in Pittsfield. It was unclear whether he served any jail time for his previous convictions.

Although this is Hawley’s seventh drunken driving charge, in Mass achusetts, the most serious repeat-offender charge for drunken driving is as a fifth offense -- even if the person has been convicted six or more times.

The penalties for fifth-offense drunken driving include a jail sentence of no less than 2 1/2 years and not more than five years in state prison, fines up to $50,000, and a lifetime license suspension, with no hardship exceptions.

On Friday, Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Joseph Zlatnik moved for a dangerousness hearing based on the defendant’s previous convictions and Hawley’s propensity to continue to drive drunk even after having his license taken away from him, according to court documents. Hawley’s attorney, David Pixley, agreed to let his client be held until Wednesday’s hearing.

To reach Andrew Amelinckx:
aamelinckx@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6249.
On Twitter: @BE_TheAmelinckx