By Dave Rogers
---- — SALISBURY — A local man banned from obtaining a driver’s license for life after multiple drunken driving convictions remains behind bars following his arraignment Monday in Newburyport District Court for allegedly getting behind the wheel while intoxicated last Friday.
Joseph W. Pratt Jr., 57, 141 Beach Road, Salisbury, faces multiple drunken driving-related charges including: OUI liquor fifth offense, operating a motor vehicle with a revoked license for OUI, and operating a motor vehicle with a revoked license for OUI while under the influence. He was also charged with possession of a class B substance, unlawfully attaching plates, concealing identity to police, marked lanes and a previous warrant.
He is expected back in court Friday for a dangerousness hearing in which a judge will rule whether Pratt represents too much of a danger to the public to be granted bail prior to a trial.
According to the report of Salisbury police Officer James Leavitt, Pratt backed out of the Dunes Motel on Beach Road shortly after 1 a.m. last Friday. As he began driving westbound, he repeatedly swerved in and out of his lane catching the attention of Leavitt who was driving eastbound. After reversing direction, Leavitt followed Pratt until he parked into the Knotty Pine Motel. Pine quickly got out of his vehicle, prompting Leavitt to order him back inside.
Moments after beginning to speak to Pratt, Leavitt noticed a strong odor of alcohol from within the vehicle and determined that the suspect’s eyes were bloodshot and glassy and he slurred his words. Pratt told Leavitt he was driving back home to the Salisbury Inn at 141 Beach Road, prompting Leavitt to point out that he had driven past his residence and made it all the way to the Knotty Pine Motel, located at 79 Beach Road.
Pratt told Leavitt he didn’t have his driver’s license and claimed the truck belonged to another person. Leavitt then asked for Pratt’s social security number which he ran through his cruiser’s laptop computer. Pratt’s driving record showed that his license had been revoked permanently based on prior drunken driving convictions, according to Leavitt’s report.
With officer Michael Tullercash assisting, Leavitt placed a combative Pratt under arrest. Pratt yelled at police and threatened to sue. During a search of the suspect at the station, officers found an oxycodone tablet, a potent painkiller available only with a prescription, which has an extremely high street resale value on the street.
It is unknown whether Pratt agreed to a blood alcohol level test either during his arrest or at the Railroad Avenue police station. A check of Pratt’s criminal record showed his most recent drunken-driving convictions were in 2002 and 1998.