WAILUKU - A Lahaina man who didn't have a driver's license when he was arrested for drunken driving for the fifth time in seven years was sentenced Wednesday to a five-year prison term.
Lando Cabulisan, 47, had been paroled from a prison term for a previous habitual DUI conviction when he was arrested Nov. 28 after crashing into a guardrail, said Deputy Prosecutor Kim Whitworth.
"The problem isn't only the alcohol. The problem is the choice to get behind the wheel and drive," she said. "He essentially is choosing to take a weapon upon the roadways of Maui County without regard for anyone's safety."
Cabulisan had pleaded no contest to habitually driving under the influence of alcohol and driving without a license for his latest arrest. The habitual DUI charge is a felony that can be brought when someone is arrested for DUI after having three DUI convictions within the previous 10 years.
While the prosecution recommended the prison term for Cabulisan, Deputy Public Defender William "Pili" McGrath said Cabulisan had already been to prison, where he received no alcohol rehabilitation.
"I expect that's about what he'll get next time," McGrath said. "It must be because alcohol is so accepted in our society, even when it has the same effect as dangerous drugs."
Cabulisan was going through emotional issues at the time of his latest arrest, McGrath said. "His wife was divorcing him, I think because of drinking."
McGrath asked the judge to consider placing Cabulisan on probation so he could enter a long-term alcohol treatment program on Oahu.
Cabulisan said he wanted to get treatment.
"I have deep regrets from my heart for this incident," he said. "Thank God for his grace that no one was hurt including me. I promise to never put anyone in harm's way again."
Cabulisan was convicted of DUI in October 2005, February 2006 and April 2007.
After being convicted of habitual DUI in June 2008, he was sentenced to a one-year jail term as part of five years' probation. But after he was released from jail, his probation was revoked in December 2008 and he was sentenced to prison. He was paroled June 6, less than five months before his latest DUI arrest, Whitworth said.
Although Cabulisan said he only drank two beers, "he was so intoxicated he couldn't figure out how to get out when the officer ordered him to exit the vehicle," Whitworth said. Cabulisan had to reach outside to unlock the door from its handle, she said.
"He was intoxicated to the point he couldn't participate in field sobriety maneuvers," Whitworth said. "That does not happen after two beers."
In sentencing Cabulisan to prison, 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo said he didn't take advantage of numerous previous opportunities to go to treatment.
"Some lessons, Mr. Cabulisan, just never get learned," Loo said. "You did not learn from your previous mistakes."
Cabulisan's license was revoked for five years.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@ mauinews.com.