“He simply cannot refrain from becoming impaired and driving,” a prosecutor wrote in charging papers following the arrest. “He is a grave danger to the community and himself.”
Dean Hermsen was first arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in 1984, according to court records.
Early Friday, the now-59-year-old Renton man was arrested for investigation of DUI for the 11th time after he pulled onto the shoulder of southbound Interstate 5 and encountered a couple of state troopers, according to the Washington State Patrol and felony charges filed Tuesday.
Hermsen had been released from prison only five months ago after serving time for his 10th DUI — which was also his third felony DUI charge since 2006, according to jail and court records and a spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections (DOC).
“This defendant is a grave danger to the community, has shown no respect for the Court or any willingness or ability to abide by any orders,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Amy Freedheim wrote in charging papers in June 2013 after Hermsen was arrested on Interstate 90, reeking of booze and driving with an open beer can in his cup holder. “Despite the requirement to install an ignition interlock device, there is no evidence he has ever done so and yet continues to drive and alarmingly continues to drink alcohol.”
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Freedheim, who is again prosecuting Hermsen, expressed a similar sentiment in the charging papers she filed Tuesday:
“He simply cannot refrain from becoming impaired and driving. He is a grave danger to the community and himself,” she wrote.
Following his most recent arrest, Hermsen has been charged with felony DUI, failing to install an ignition interlock and third-degree driving with a suspended license. He is being held in jail in lieu of $500,000 bail.
After his first DUI arrest in 1984, Hermsen was again arrested a year later, but that charge was reduced to reckless driving. Hermsen was again arrested for DUI in 1995, 1996, 2000, twice in 2002, and again in 2003, according to records filed in King County Superior Court.
In 2006, he was busted for felony DUI in Nevada, the records say.
Then in August 2010, he was again arrested for DUI on his way home to his Renton apartment after nearly coming to blows with a bartender who kicked him out of a tavern for being overly aggressive with a female patron, say the records in that case. He was confrontational with police, was driving without an interlock device and had a blood alcohol content of 0.19, more than double the legal limit of 0.08, court records show.
He ultimately pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a little over three years in prison, with credit for time served in the King County Jail, according to court records.
He was in DOC custody from January 2011 until December 2012, a DOC spokeswoman said.
While still on DOC community supervision following his release from prison, Hermsen was driving his mother’s pickup when he experienced a mechanical problem and pulled over on the shoulder of Interstate 90 near Preston in June 2013, say charging papers. He was attempting to flag down passing motorists when a state trooper came along, smelled alcohol on Hermsen’s breath and discovered an open, 16-ounce can of beer in the cup holder, the papers say.
Hermsen tried to convince the trooper to give him a ride from the interstate, and when that failed, he tried to walk away and resisted being handcuffed, according to the charges. He was again uncooperative, refused to take a breathalyzer test, kicked the trooper’s seat, repeatedly spit in the back seat and called the trooper an idiot, say the papers.
Hermsen pleaded guilty in October 2013 and was sentenced to five years in prison, and again received credit for time served in jail, court records show. He was released from prison on Nov. 22 and was again on active community supervision when he was arrested Friday, according to court records and a DOC spokeswoman.
Friday’s arrest happened just before 2 a.m., when a state trooper and a cadet trooper pulled onto the shoulder of southbound Interstate 5 at the Albro Place exit in Seattle to check out a report of smoke coming from a homeless encampment under the freeway, charging papers say. Hermsen, who was driving a green sedan, also pulled onto the shoulder, apparently to check out the smoke, say the charges.
The troopers reported Hermsen exhibited signs of impairment and admitted to drinking beer. He flunked field-sobriety tests, refused to take a breathalyzer test and was uncooperative, charging papers say.
The troopers got a warrant for a blood draw, and Hermsen’s blood was drawn at a hospital; the results of toxicology tests are pending, the charges say.
As in previous arrests, Hermsen’s vehicle was not equipped with an ignition interlock device, according to charging papers.
While the charge of DUI is a gross misdemeanor for adult defendants, in 2007 the state Legislature amended the statute, making DUI a Class B felony for juveniles and anyone who has four prior DUI convictions in a 10-year time span.
A bill to make a fourth DUI instead of a fifth DUI eligible for felony prosecution was passed by the state Senate earlier this month; it appears the bill remains in committee in the House.