Mad River Union
EUREKA — A pre-trial hearing is scheduled Nov. 21 for Fortuna City Manager Mark Wheetley, who has pleaded not guilty to his second arrest in 18 months on charges of driving under the influence.
The former Arcata mayor and city councilmember will be represented in November in Courtroom 8 by Eureka attorney Patrik Griego.
Wheetley was arrested and booked into Humboldt County jail by the California Highway Patrol in mid-July for allegedly exceeding the speed limit on State Route 255, driving with a reported blood alcohol level above 0.08 and operating a vehicle with expired registration tags.
The new charges, if upheld, would constitute a violation of Wheetley’s three-year probation for his prior DUI arrest on Jan. 7, 2016.
The new Fortuna city manager had completed only half those three years when he was pulled over in July. He faces two misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence and one count of DUI while on probation. His pre-trial hearing will take place two days before Thanksgiving.
The statutory minimum jail sentence on a second DUI conviction ranges from 96 hours to one year, with an average of 60-90 days statewide.
In addition, Wheetley is subject to a probation violation hearing and a Department of Motor Vehicles hearing. Breaching probation can result in up to 180 days in county jail, with an average of 0 to 90.
The DMV typically imposes a two-year suspended driver’s license, with eligibility for a restricted license starting one year later.
Wheetley was taken into custody again in about the same location as in 2016, where Navy Base Road joins State Route 255. He was also in the same vehicle as before, a 2013 Chrysler minivan.
In the wake of his first DUI arrest, Wheetley stood down in late January, 2016 from the Third District Supervisor’s race to succeed Mark Lovelace. Wheetley was a member of the Arcata City Council at the time.
A year later he departed the City Council to become Fortuna’s city manager last April.
An Arcata resident and environmental scientist with a long career in local politics, Wheetley had been on the council since 2005 and had been re-elected to a fourth term in 2014.
He served as Arcata’s mayor in 2008 and 2009 and again in 2014.