SALISBURY – An Amesbury man already banned from driving for life after a string of drunken-driving convictions was charged with a 10th offense after his arrest Sunday by Salisbury police.
Robert Sheridan, 54, of Collins Street was ordered held without bail at his arraignment Monday in Newburyport District Court. He is due back in court next Monday for a dangerousness hearing.
"Tenth is probably the highest I've ever seen," Salisbury police Lt. Anthony King said in response to the arrest.
A check of Sheridan's record shows drunken-driving convictions in Massachusetts and New Hampshire dating back to 1989. His driver's license was revoked for life in 2005.
At Sheridan's arraignment Monday, an Essex County prosecutor said he has already served jail time and could see much more since an indictment in Superior Court is possible.
Word of Sheridan's 10th drunken-driving charge drew sharp condemnation from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the national traffic safety group founded in California in 1980.
"MADD is outraged that someone with a reported nine previous OUIs and a lifetime license suspension is still on the roads endangering innocent people," MADD spokeswoman Becky Iannotta said in an email.
"Clearly Massachusetts’ system for dealing with DUI is broken," she added. "Massachusetts must enact an all-offender ignition interlock law, which is proven to stop repeat drunk drivers, and punish habitual repeat offenders like this with appropriate jail time. We demand that an ignition interlock is installed on the alleged offender's vehicle so he will be unable to drive drunk again."
Three witnesses saw Sheridan drive a Dodge Ram pickup erratically on Elm Street (Route 110) and Old Elm Street about 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, according to court records.
One witnesses saw Sheridan miss a turn onto Old Elm Street and drive over a small traffic island before striking a stop sign.
"The truck never attempted to stop and sped off quickly down Old Elm Street towards Rabbit Road," Salisbury police Sgt. Timothy Hunter wrote in his report.
Another witness was driving on Route 110 when he saw Sheridan slam into a street sign and continue without stopping.
The third witness was about three car lengths behind Sheridan when he saw the pickup veer over the center lane of Route 110 and into the breakdown lane. He then saw Sheridan attempt the turn onto Old Elm Street only to see him hit the stop sign.
Hunter caught up with Sheridan on Main Street near the former Plains School and clocked him traveling 45 mph in a 30 mph zone. Hunter also saw him drift to the right until both passenger-side tires struck the curb.
Upon pulling Sheridan over, Hunter smelled an overwhelming odor of alcohol coming from him. Sheridan was unable to give the officer his registration and admitted he didn't have a driver's license. He also admitted he had a few drinks before getting behind the wheel.
Sheridan was very unsteady on his feet after Hunter asked him to walk to the back of his truck. After Hunter performed a series of field sobriety tests on Sheridan, the officer determined Sheridan was driving under the influence and placed him under arrest.
A check of the truck revealed that its registration had been canceled a few weeks earlier and belonged to a woman with the same address as Sheridan.
"The vehicle was full of construction tools and equipment and it seems as though Robert was using this on a daily basis to make a living," Hunter wrote in his report.
Police soon determined that Sheridan had been convicted of driving under the influence at least eight times with one charge possibly continued without a finding, according to court records.
Staff Writer Dave Rogers can be reached by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at: @drogers41008.