Man Charged With 17th DUI

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Jul 23

Lewis & Laws

Man Charged With 17th DUI

by Lewis & Laws

Man Charged With 17th DUI

According to KIRO 7 News, two weeks ago a man charged with his 17th DUI was in a King County courtroom for a hearing, receiving a $1 million bail, forcing him to remain in the King County Jail.

Dwight Benson, 70, has been portrayed as a traumatized war veteran who served three decades in the Navy and did three tours in Vietnam. Benson was diagnosed with PTSD, and his attorney claims he is no threat to the public, rather only has a drinking problem. 

A former Seattle Municipal Court Judge, Edsonya Charles told Benson in 2010 when he went before her for his 11th DUI that it was “miraculous” that he had not hurt himself or another person. Following his 11th DUI, he was sentenced to one year in jail for the DUI and another year for driving on a suspended license.

Benson received his first DUI in 1984, then received another one during that decade. During the 90s, Benson racked up six more DUIs. By the time he reached his 11th DUI in 2010, he could not be charged with a felony because, under Washington state law, a felony could only be charged if he had four or more prior offenses within the past ten years. The current DUI charges against Benson are felony charges. 

According to court documents, Benson was near 52nd Avenue South and South Orcas Street in the early morning hours when his Corvette crossed the centerline and struck a driver in an oncoming Toyota Camry. While neither driver suffered severe or life-threatening injuries, both vehicles sustained severe damage. Seattle police responded, noting Benson appeared impaired, refused field sobriety tests, and admitted he had been drinking.

Third and Subsequent DUIs in the State of Washington

If you have been arrested on charges of DUI, and this is your third or subsequent DUI, it is extremely important that you seek experienced legal representation as quickly as possible. You will be required to post bail, likely a large amount.  You will potentially face hefty consequences, as the judge is required to sentence you to certain mandatory minimums and can impose the maximum penalty even if your prior offenses did not occur within the past seven years.

Penalties for a Third DUI Conviction Within Seven Years

If your BAC was less than .15 or you had a marijuana level of 5 ng or higher (or were driving under the influence of any drug), you could face the following penalties for a third Seattle DUI:

  • A minimum of 90 days, with a potential of up to 364 days in jail
  • 120 days of electronic home monitoring—at your expense (the 120 days of EHM could potentially be converted to 8 days in jail)
  • A minimum mandatory fine of $2,045.50, including assessments, with a maximum fine of $5,000.
  • License revocation of three years upon conviction
  • Mandatory ignition interlock for one year (if you were not previously restricted following a DUI conviction. If you were previously restricted following a DUI conviction, then the second time will be for five years, and the third time will be for ten years. If there was a passenger under the age of 16 in the vehicle, an additional 30 days will be added.
  • Up to five years’ probation
  • A chemical dependency evaluation
  • A course of recommended alcohol or drug treatment
  • Attendance at a court-approved DUI victim impact panel

Those penalties increase if the BAC was .15 or more or if you refuse to take a BAC test. Aside from these very serious consequences, many people lose their job as a result of a third or subsequent DUI and find it difficult to regain employment. A commercial driver loses a CDL for a lifetime upon a second conviction, and DUI convictions remain on your criminal record for life, preventing you from traveling to Canada, and costing a significant amount of money in the form of fines, fees, ignition interlock, probation fees, and insurance. Because of the severe consequences, it is important to contact a knowledgeable Seattle DUI attorney as soon as you are charged.

Getting Help From Seattle DUI Defense Attorneys at Lewis & Laws, PLLC

If you are charged with DUI in Seattle, it is imperative that you contact an experienced Seattle criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible to ensure your rights and your future are protected. DUI charges can be more serious than you may think and you could find yourself unable to gain employment or missing out on important life events because of your DUI. 

The experienced lawyers at Lewis & Laws, PLLC  have successfully defended clients in Seattle, Bellevue, and Kirkland. Contact us today at 206.209.0608 or fill out our online contact form.

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