One Man's DUI Influences State Legislation

Posted by Richard Lawson | Apr 28, 2017 | 0 Comments

In the course of 33 years, Dean Hermsen of Renton, Washington accrued 11 DUI convictions. Earlier this month, he found himself in the midst of another DUI investigation after he was found driving impaired on Interstate 5 by Washington State Patrol. Just five months prior, Hermsen was released from prison where he had been serving time for his 10th DUI, which was his 3rd DUI felony. Hermsen was characterized as a "grave danger to the community" by a prosecutor in a 2013 case. At the time Hermsen was ordered to install an IID in his vehicle but failed to. The same prosecutor is handling his current case, in which he is charged with felony DUI, failing to install an ignition interlock and third-degree driving with a suspended license. His bail is set at $500,000.

Hermsen has been arrested for DUI in Nevada as well as Washington, with arrests in 1984, 1995, 1996, 2000, twice in 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2010 and 2013 according to King County Court records. In his 2010 case, he was sentenced to 3 years in prison with credit for time served in jail. While on DOC supervision in 2013, Hermsen saw his 10th DUI and was sentenced to 5 years in prison again with credit for time served. Troopers spotted Hermsen's green sedan pulled over on I-5 while responding to a report of smoke coming from a homeless encampment. Upon interaction with Hermsen, officers noted signs of impairment and conducted field sobriety tests which he failed. Hermsen was not cooperative with law enforcement; a warrant was obtained for a blood draw. Under Washington law, DUI is a gross misdemeanor. A 2007 statute amendment made juvenile DUI and a fifth DUI in a ten-year span class B felonies.

On April 21, Washington lawmakers approved legislation making a fourth DUI in a ten-year span a felony, instead of a fifth DUI in a ten-year span. The bill, SB 5037, had been under way well before Hermsen's headline-making 11th DUI arrest. Passing through the Republican-controlled senate a number of times in recent years, the bill consistently stalled in the Democrat-controlled house. The bill's sponsor Senator Mike Padden cited Hermsen's arrest as the necessary push, at least in part, that got the bill through the house. The bill's fiscal notes estimate that 192 annual cases that would have been tried as gross misdemeanors will now be tried as felony DUIs.

Cases like Hermsen's are going to be more visible on the media circuit than say, the case of an upstanding professional facing a first-time DUI charge. These outlier cases paint a biased picture of the overall landscape of DUI cases, which are not exclusively populated with cases like Hermsen's. A good number of these cases deal with non-serial offenders, who are deeply worried about how the charge will affect their future. If you have been charged with DUI in Gwinnett County, speak to experienced and aggressive Gwinnett DUI attorney Richard Lawson as soon as possible. Skilled legal representation can be the difference between a conviction and a cleared name. Do not hesitate in this critical fight against a DUI conviction, contact Richard Lawson today for a free consultation.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Richard S. Lawson is passionate about intoxicated driving defense. Unlike some attorneys, Mr. Lawson devotes 100% of his legal practice to helping people stand up for their rights against DUI charges. For more than 20 years, Mr. Lawson has dutifully fought for his clients' freedom, resolving more 4,900 impaired driving cases during the course of his career. Today, Mr. Lawson has developed a reputation as a skilled negotiator and continues to help clients by fighting to keep them out of jail.


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