A Stiff One for the DUI King

Robert Castle, checkmated at last.

In much the same way the cops had to catch him on the highways, DUI king Robert Castle appears to finally have been nailed by the justice system. The 51-year-old Lynnwood bricklayer's assistant faces up to five years in prison when he's sentenced next Monday in Snohomish County Superior Court for a misdemeanor drunk-driving conviction and a felony eluding charge. That likely prison term will come on top of an already-astonishing King County Jail sentence handed down recently in Seattle Municipal Court: 910 days.Last month, muni court judge George Holifield doled out maximum consecutive terms to Castle on four counts stemming from a 2006 DUI bust: 365 days each on convictions of DUI and driving with a suspended license, and 90 days each for refusing to stop and resisting arrest.The judge isn't sure if two-and-a-half years is a Seattle record for DUI-related misdemeanor violations. But with 16 DUI charges to his credit, the state's top drunk driver deserved this stiff one, says Holi-field. "I don't think there has been a case where the defendant has as many contacts with the court system as Mr. Castle," he says. In addition to the time, Holifield tacked on a $10,000 fine.Often chased, sometimes Tazered, and rarely without a bottle between his legs, Castle scored a drunk-driving conviction every year and a half since 1985 (see "Slippery When Wet," April 9). Still, his long record won't necessarily play a direct role when he faces a Snohomish judge next week on his first felony-related DUI conviction.A new state law allows anyone with four or more misdemeanor DUIs within 10 years of one another to be tried and sentenced as a felon for the fifth conviction, but Castle's more recent string of cases fell outside the prescribed window. So rather than try him for just another misdemeanor, Snohomish prosecutors charged him with felony eluding after he tried to run from a 2006 DUI arrest.Convicted on that charge in 2007, Castle failed to show for sentencing; he was also a no-show for his Seattle trial. But he was nabbed in December for his 16th DUI and has been in custody since. In a sort of DUI Groundhog Day, he faces a separate DUI/felony eluding charge in Snohomish, and likely another trial in Seattle for the 16th DUI.If he's convicted in the second Snohomish case, he'll have tallied the requisite four convictions in 10 years to be tried as a felony drunk driver in Seattle. He has frequently been given deferred sentences and hasn't done any serious time since 1985. But it could now be a while before he tells a cop, as he once did, "Arrest me; I'll be out soon."

 
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