It’s a case that seems extraordinary, even outrageous. Tacoma man Tracy Dean Williams may be convicted a 14th time for driving under the influence.
But one city prosecutor says while it might not be common, it’s hardly rare.
“I’ve seen it before and we’ll see it again” says Kent’s Chief Prosecutor Tami Perdue.
Williams' most recent run-in with the law came back in May, when he rear-ended another car. Police found two open booze bottles in the van he was driving and discovered his license was suspended.
But even with 13 prior DUI convictions on his record, dating back to 1984, the toughest sentence the 52-year-old can get is three years and 90 days. Washington law calls for DUI to be prosecuted as a felony if a defendant has four prior convictions within 10 years. Williams past offenses don’t fall within that time frame and he faces two misdemeanor charges for the most recent incident.
Perdue says the only way to keep somebody like Williams from being a threat on the roads is to lock them up. In a case like Williams', nothing else seems to work.
“If people want to, they’re going to find a way. They’re going to do it without a license. They’re going to do it against court orders,” Perdue said.
Even the ignition-interlock devices often required upon conviction don’t necessarily stop this kind of repeat offender.
“We can install all the interlock devices we want. But they can rent a car, borrow a car, steal a car...or just not install it,” she added.
The Washington Legislature voted to tighten the state’s DUI laws this year and Governor Inslee is expected to sign that bill by July 18. However, provisions calling for tougher sentencing requirements for DUI offenders were dropped from the bill because of the cost of jail time.