Puyallup police say that when officers arrested an erratic driver with at least four prior driving-under-the influence offenses early Tuesday morning, he told officers he drove drunk again because he had nothing to lose.
Officers spotted the 48-year-old Puyallup man driving erratically around 1:30 a.m. near East Pioneer Avenue and Highway 512, said Capt. Scott Engle. After an evaluation, officers found the man to be under the influence of alcohol. Engle said that the driver told police on his own that he had prior DUI offenses, and for one of them, he had recently served a 29-month sentence.
Four of those prior offenses — one in Pierce County, one in Snohomish County and two in Walla Walla County — happened in the last decade, according to court records. Two offenses in 2003 happened within a month of each other.
Engle said the driver had a suspended license, warrants out for several other traffic crimes and was legally required to have an ignition interlock device in his car, though there wasn’t one in the vehicle he was driving. Police said he told them he “had nothing to lose” when he decided to drive drunk again.
“It’s not something we normally hear and it’s alarming,” Engle said. “That’s a wake-up call to be aware of repeat DUI offenders.”
The man was booked into Pierce County Jail for investigation of a felony DUI and for driving with a suspended license. Engle said the charges are being reviewed by the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said a fifth DUI offense is a felony that carries a standard sentence range of 22 to 29 months — but someday he’d like to see sentences like that apply to the third offense.
State lawmakers are considering an overhaul of DUI penalties in May that could make the fourth DUI offense a felony. Another proposal involves increasing prison sentences for second and third offenses, but encouraging offenders to substitute incarceration with a treatment program.