The attorneys at SQ attorneys frequently get asked why Washington DUI laws appear to be so draconian. After all, many, if not most, people that get arrested for DUI do not have any criminal history and they are stopped after having a few drinks with friends over dinner, or while watching a sporting event or concert. They are good, hard working people; they obey Washington laws, and they honor and respect our law enforcement agents. Well, the answer to that draconian question is really only a newspaper or news channel away. Take for instance this past week’s stories; three tragedies were featured in our local news.
The first case involved a 43-year-old woman who plead guilty to charges of vehicular homicide, vehicular assault and reckless driving for a collision that resulted in the death of an 81-year-old woman in Kirkland on Aug. 7, 2012. The driver, Kelly Ann Hudson, was under the influence of alcohol and a prescription drug when her minivan collided head-on with a car occupied by four people, killing passenger Joyce Parsons. The sentence range in Ms. Hudson’s case is 8 1/2 years to just over 11 years in prison. It is said that Prosecutors will recommend the higher end of the sentence range when Ms. Hudson is sentenced on November 22, 2013.
Increased sentence ranges for vehicular homicide (DUI) went into effect in June 2012. Under the new law, the standard range sentence increased from 31-41 months to 78-102 months, making it equal to the range for first-degree manslaughter. Ms. Hudson was the second person to be charged in King County since the new range went into effect.
The second case involved a Woodinville man, Samuel C. Sampson, accused of causing a fatal crash on Interstate 405 after using drugs and racing at speeds up to 150 mph. Mr. Sampson plead not guilty this week during his arraignment in King County Superior Court. He is charged with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault and reckless driving in connection with the September 12th crash in Bellevue that killed a 22-year-old man. Mr. Sampson is currently in jail in lieu of $1 million bail.
In the State’s probable cause statement it is alleged that Mr. Sampson was driving his wife’s Audi RS4 on I-405 around 10 p.m. Thursday when he struck Riley Beckford’s BMW, which burst into flames. Mr. Sampson allegedly told police after the collision that he had been “bored, I guess,” when he was racing, swerving and “going really fast” on the freeway. He said he had used methamphetamines, heroin and methadone in the days and hours leading up to the fatal crash, according to the probable-cause statement. Mr. Sampson’s wife and a passenger in one of two other vehicles that were involved in the collision suffered non-life-threatening injuries, police said.
The third case involved a 51 year old man, Mark W. Mullan. Mr. Mullan plead guilty this week to two counts of vehicular assault/DUI and violating the state’s interlock law. Sentencing in Mr. Mullan’s case is scheduled for November 15, 2013. He faces approximately 18 years in prison.
On March 25, 2013 Mr. Mullan drove a pickup truck that crashed into the Schulte family in a Wedgwood crosswalk, while they were out for a walk. Mr. Dennis Schulte and Ms. Judy Schulte were struck, along with their daughter-in-law, Karina Ulriksen Schulte, and her infant son, Elias. The elder Schultes were killed, and Ulriksen Schulte and her son were badly injured. Mr. Mullan smelled of alcohol, failed field sobriety tests and had a preliminary breath-alcohol level of 0.22 percent, according to Seattle police. Allegedly Mr. Mullan was on probation after a DUI conviction, under the supervision of the Seattle Municipal Court probation department.
So it is clear, the government is attempting to create safety within our community and on Washington roadways. Our DUI laws are strict and are bound to get even stricter. That said, many good people find themselves facing some harsh consequences for being arrested and charged for a DUI. Hiring a Seattle DUI attorney to help can – at a minimum – work to reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI attorney as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer.