Former Essex town

The officer awoke Morse to check on his well-being and noticed signs he had been drinking. Morse admitted to having done so roughly two hours prior, and a breathalyzer test indicated his BAC to be more than the current legal limit of 0.08 percent.

The keys were in the ignition, but the vehicle's engine was off. A partially empty box of wine sat on the seat beside Morse.

Most people with prior convictions of DWI get charged with a felony on their second offense, but because Morse's first conviction was more than 10 years old, his latest arrest had to be treated as a misdemeanor first offense.

In a written statement to police, Morse claimed he had two large glasses of wine around 2 p.m. that day while at his company's office on Indian Bay Road.

"They were big glasses, probably four normal glasses worth of wine," he stated.

Shortly thereafter, he left work, drove to a friend's house on Birch Avenue, then to the boat launch where, Morse claimed, he left the keys in the vehicle to listen to the radio. The trip would have spanned a total of about three miles.

He also admitted to having the box of wine he had drank from in the truck with him at the time, but emphasized he had not had anything else to drink after leaving work.

Not enough evidence

A DWI charge would have brought a fine of between $500 and $1,000 for Morse. Instead, a plea bargain from District Attorney Julie Garcia offered a charge of "failure to keep right" with fines and surcharges totaling just $110.

When interviewed about the offer, Garcia said it was not a deviation from her tough stance against DWI cases, but rather an instance where a conviction was not likely given the available evidence.

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