Washington: anatomy of a DUI case involving a boozing prosecutor — Dennis the drunk driving menance and her light treatment instead of jail time
by admin ·
Footnotes on senior deputy prosecutor’s DUI
November 29th, 2013 by Chris Henry
When we wrote about a Pierce County court giving a Kitsap County senior deputy prosecutor treatment for alcohol addiction in lieu of punishment, a number of readers railed against the deferred prosecution deal.
“She had a prior alcohol related incident where charges were reduced!! She was driving drunk with two 3-yr-olds in the car!! Why was deferred prosecution even on the table?” commenter SS487 asked.
I brought readers’ concerns to Pierce County Deputy Prosecutor Tim Lewis. In a nutshell, he said Barbara O. Dennis received no special consideration and only got the concessions to which she was legally eligible under state law.
“The way we approached this case is no different from how we approach any other DUI that comes through our office,” Lewis said.
The implication of Lewis’ statement is that anyone under similar circumstances should be able to expect the same treatment. Here are details of Dennis’ case and Lewis’ answers to questions raised by how it played out in court.
Dennis, 42, was driving Oct. 9 on Bond Road when her van rear-ended a Volvo that had stopped for a car that was turning. A Washington State Patrol trooper who responded noted Dennis smelled of alcohol. A test at Kitsap County Jail after her arrest showed blood alcohol levels of 0.144 and 0.134, more than the 0.08 legal limit. Two 3-year-olds were riding in Dennis’ car at the time of the accident.
The Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office referred the case to Pierce County to avoid a conflict of interest. On Oct. 22, Dennis was charged with driving under the influence.
Dennis was charged with DUI in 2007 by Pierce County prosecutors. The charge was reduced to first-degree negligent driving, an alcohol-related misdemeanor, after Dennis complied with certain court-ordered conditions.
Considering her prior alcohol-related offense, why was deferred prosecution an option on her second DUI?
The 2007 negligent driving charge does count as a prior DUI, Lewis said