A Stiff One for DUI King

br.jpg King Castle

In much the same way the cops had to chase and 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 for a misdemeanor drunk driving conviction and a felony eluding charge next Monday in Snohomish County Superior Court. That likely state prison term will come on top of an already astonishing King County Jail sentence just handed down in Seattle Municipal Court: 910 days

He’ll have to serve every one of them, says muni court judge George Holifield, who last month doled out maxium consecutive terms to Castle on four counts stemming from a 2006 DUI bust: 365 days each on DUI and driving with a suspended license convictions, and 90 days each for refusing to stop and resisting arrest.

The judge isn’t sure if 2 ½ years is a Seattle record for DUI-related misdemeanor violations. But with 16 DUIs to his credit, the state’s top drunk driver deserved this stiff one, says Hollifield. "I don't think there has been a case where the defendant has as many contacts with the court systems 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. 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 to be tried and sentenced as a felon for the fifth conviction, but Castle’s more recent string of cases fell outside the 10-year limit. Rather than try him for just another misdemeanor, however, Snohomish prosecutors creatively charged him with felony eluding after he tried to run from a 2006 DUI arrest.

Convicted on that charge in 2007, he 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 another, separate DUI/felony eluding charge in Snohomish and likely another trial in Seattle -- perhaps in King County Superior Court - for the 16th DUI.

If he’s convicted in the 2nd Snohomish case, he’ll have his four convictions in ten years, and could be tried as a felony drunk driver in Seattle. He was frequently given deferred sentences and never did any serious time since 1985. But it could now be awhile before he tells a cop, as he once did, "Arrest me, I’ll be out soon."

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