If there were ever a good time to be arrested for DUI (note: there's not), Seattle police Sgt. Scott Moss picked it. Last week, the Washington legislature unanimously approved a measure that cracks down on repeat DUI offenders, making any drunk-driving offense a felony if the driver has a previous conviction. But Moss, arrested April 3 after State Troopers caught him on I-405 in Newcastle "drifting back and forth between the far right lane and the freeway's shoulder," won't be affected by the new law. That's fortunate for Moss, since this isn't the first time he's found himself in trouble for drinking and driving.
This time, Moss, a 16-year veteran of the Department currently working as a patrol sergeant in the West Precinct, was pulled over at approximately 5 a.m. on Sun., April 3. The Seattle Times broke the story, and they offer these details, courtesy of State Patrol spokesman Cliff Pratt:
Moss' blood alcohol content (BAC) was measured at .069 and .075 percent, according to Pratt. Though that was below the legal limit of 0.08, Pratt noted that the tests weren't performed until well over 1 ½ hours after Moss' arrest, though the reason for the delay was not immediately known.
"He did identify himself as a police officer," Pratt said. "Throughout the whole thing Scott was courteous and polite, and toward the end of it he was apologetic for the situation."
SPD's office of professional accountability has reportedly opened an investigation into Moss' latest arrest. In 2009, Moss was charged with second-degree assault after he cut his wife's thumb during a domestic dispute. Moss was acquitted by a jury in that case.
As for the state's new DUI legislation, HB 1789, if signed into law by Gov. Gregoire as anticipated, will introduce new standards for felony DUI prosecution. As it stands, a DUI is only a felony if the driver has racked up four DUIs in less than 10 years, or has been involved in a vehicular homicide or assault while drunk. The new guidelines will allow prosecutors to charge anyone previously convicted of felony DUI with another felony, regardless of whether their new DUI meets the old felony criteria.
As King County deputy prosecutor Amy Freedheim explained it to the Tacoma News-Tribune: "Once you're a felony DUI, you're always a felony DUI."
What's more, the new law will require anyone convicted of a DUI vehicular homicide to serve their prison sentence in full. And finally, people convicted of alcohol-related reckless driving or first-degree negligent driving could be ordered to install ignition interlock devices on their cars, a precaution that is only currently available in DUI cases.