OTTER TAIL COUNTY, Minn. - It's difficult to even count all of Danny Bettcher drunk driving convictions.
KARE 11 News pulled his driving record, and the Minnesota Department of Public safety knows of 23.
North Dakota's online court records show four more convictions to total 27.
And the only records available date back to 1980. This guy has been driving since the late 1960s.
Bettcher's recent arrest will make at least 28 DWI convictions if he's found guilty. And he was caught while using a valid driver's license. How is that possible?
"The short answer is, Minnesota does not have a lifetime ban on eligibility for licenses," said Twin Cities Attorney Marsh Halberg.
Halberg said unlike some states that no doubt would have banned Danny Bettcher from driving long ago, Minnesota only revokes licenses for a period of time. An offender just needs to complete requirements such as fines, rehab or retaking the test.
Detroit Lakes attorney Karen Skoyles prosecuted Bettcher in 2000, when his DWI count was already into the 20s. Skoyles said the state legislature finally passed a felony DWI law, in part because of Bettcher.
And Bettcher was convicted of that very law - felony DWI - three years later.
That means Bettcher spent time in prison.
Since 2004, according to the MN Department of Corrections, Bettcher has spent 11 years and 3 months locked up on various DWI convictions and violations of his release.
But that doesn't mean he can't get a driver's license in Minnesota.
"At some point, you are eligible to get a license back. It's just a matter of time, you can do that," Halberg said.
The argument that's been made in Minnesota on this topic is whether it's better to allow someone to get a driver's license, with restrictions on it so they can be monitored -- or to ban them from driving altogether and know that they're probably going to do it anyway.
This time around, Bettcher is likely looking at about 5 years in prison if he's convicted.
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