WAILUKU - A Kihei man whose blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit when he was arrested last year was taken into custody Wednesday to serve a one-year jail term for his fifth drunken-driving conviction.
"What is it going to take before you learn that you cannot drink and drive?" 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo asked Marty Whetham. "When will you learn? When you kill somebody?"
Whetham, 41, had pleaded no contest to habitually driving under the influence of an intoxicant. The felony charge can be brought against someone arrested for DUI who has three or more prior DUI convictions within the past 10 years.
When he was arrested March 23, 2013, Whetham had been seen disregarding double-yellow lines on Auhana Road in Kihei, according to police. He showed signs of intoxication, including his head bouncing around when an officer stopped his vehicle and approached him, Loo said.
She noted Whetham's blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.203 percent, compared with the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
"I could have two and a half of you standing before me and all of you would be found guilty of driving under the influence," Loo told Whetham. "That's how drunk you were that night.
"You were not only drunk, you really were a pretty mean drunk."
She said Whetham swore at officers and accused them of possibly stealing his money when they were helping look for his identification. At some point, she said Whetham admitted to being drunk but said that he was a "good guy" and on his way home.
"A lot of accidents happen very close to people's homes," Loo said. "Although you may plead with the police that you're a good guy, good guys get drunk."
At the time, Whetham's driver's license had been revoked "so you shouldn't have even been on the road," Loo said.
In court Wednesday, Whetham apologized.
"Since I was arrested, I have been 100 percent sober," he said. "I have not had an ounce of liquor. I had a baby girl in January, and I just can't believe I'm in this situation.
"I'm committed to being sober for the rest of my life and never be here again."
His attorney, Marie Kosegarten, said Whetham has attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and enrolled in an intensive program of individual and group counseling four times a week.
In arguing for probation rather than prison for Whetham, Kosegarten said he is remorseful and wanted to get help.
"This is a lifetime change," she said.
His counselor, Joanne Marroni of Akamai Recovery Maui, said she could find no record of Whetham having been previously referred to have a substance abuse assessment done. "This is his first opportunity and participation in substance abuse treatment," Marroni said.
Loo said that for Whetham's three DUI convictions in Hawaii, an evaluation by a substance abuse counselor would be mandatory.
His prior DUI convictions were in 2004, 2008, 2010 and 2012, the judge said.
Deputy Prosecutor Carson Tani recommended a one-year jail term as part of four years' probation for Whetham, saying that would give him a chance to continue in treatment and face consequences if he doesn't comply.
As part of his sentence, Loo placed Whetham on four years' probation and ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine and $1,487 in fees. A mandatory driver's license revocation was ordered for five years.
In another sentencing Wednesday, a Wailuku man was placed on one year's probation and given credit for 10 days he previously spent in jail for threatening his neighbors with a stick last year.
Takson Hans, 34, also was ordered to pay a $500 fine.
He had pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of second-degree reckless endangering, as well as third-degree criminal property damage and disorderly conduct in the Sept. 8 incident.
Police said Hans appeared to be intoxicated when he wielded the weapon on Kainalu Street, hitting a neighbor's car.
In a later incident, Hans was arrested for shoplifting a bottle of alcohol from Sack 'n Save Foods, said his attorney, Al Albrechtson.
"Through all this, he realizes he has to stop drinking," Albrechtson said.
He said Hans has been sober for three months.
"It is because I was drunk that I did this thing that I didn't mean to," Hans said in a letter to the court that was translated by a Chukeese interpreter.
Hans said he was sorry to the three neighbors who were victims that evening.
Loo said it was "scary" that Hans reported he was too drunk to remember what happened.
Over a 12-hour period, Hans and a friend had consumed a box of wine and two cases of beer.
"No wonder you were crazy that night," Loo told Hans. "What goes in has to come out. So you take in all that alcohol and all that liquor. And with you, what comes out is crazy and mean.
"If you cannot control your liquor, I will control your liquor by throwing you in jail next."
Hans was ordered to stay away from alcohol and illegal drugs and to complete an anger management program.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.