Last year, a Seattle police officer was charged with DUI after a multi-vehicle crash involving the city vehicle he was driving in Mukilteo. Now that his case has been heard by the court, the detective may not face jail time, but he might still have to pay for damages to others involved in the crash.
According to a court agreement, the officer can avoid jail time if he complies with five years of probation. Two of those years will require frequent check-ins, and the last three years will involve looser monitoring. If he fails to comply with those terms, he will automatically be found guilty without a jury trial. After the crash, he refused a breathalyzer, so for the first year after the collision, his driving privileges are still suspended.
Important in the officer's defense was that he qualified for a deferred prosecution. The judge decided that because the officer was suffering from alcoholism when the accident occurred, and because he had shown progress in a rehabilitation program, he did qualify for prosecution deferment. That option can only be used once under state law in Washington.
As is the case with many people convicted of DUI, the detective will have to use an ignition interlock device when his driving privileges are restored. This device, which is essentially a car breathalyzer that prevents the vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected, will stay on the officer's car for at least a year.
Drunk driving charges are taken very seriously in Washington, but everyone accused of such a crime has certain rights that cannot be violated. A strong criminal defense will seek a reduction or dismissal of charges or another favorable agreement with the court. Seattle residents who have been accused of DUI should not just give up; it is important to reveal any mitigating circumstances that lead to the best outcome possible.
Source: The Seattle Times, "No jail time for Seattle detective in DUI crash," Aug. 28, 2012