SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. - A repeat drunk driver just arrested for his 16th DUI can't serve a lengthy prison sentence because state law is tying a judge's hands. Still, she sentenced 53-year-old Timothy Hansen in a Snohomish County Superior Courtroom Tuesday.
"Given how many chances you've had I can't give you another one. I'm going to hit you with everything,” Judge Marybeth Dingledy said in court.
Hansen got three years in jail -- more than the prosecutor asked for. Hansen has been arrested for drunk driving 16 times and convicted nine times since 1987.
"Mr. Hansen I don't know if three years in the jail is going to do anything for you. I'd probably rather you go to prison but I can't send you there,” explained the judge.
She can't because under Washington law Hansen has to have four DUI convictions in 10 years for a felony conviction and prison time. But when we looked into Hansen's record we found he keeps pleading to lesser charges, so he only has three in that time period.
"He does take responsibility, he has been struggling with an alcohol issue for many, many years and obviously frequently, not successfully,” Hansen’s attorney, Caroline Mann, told the judge.
Mann said Hansen was leaving alcohol treatment when he got this most recent DUI last November. When the arresting officer asked how many DUIs he had, Hansen asked, “In my lifetime?” He refused a breathalyzer, but when doctors drew his blood two and half hours later his blood alcohol level was still more than twice the legal limit.
"It is amazing to me you have not hurt anybody when doing this, at least not anybody I know of,” Dingledy said to Hansen.
Hansen's criminal rap sheet consists of more than drunk driving; he's had 41 total misdemeanors and five felonies, including theft and eluding police. He also had 43 failures to appear in court.