Wednesday, September 26, 2007

State's new felony DUI law put to use

Man looks at 5th conviction in 10 years


A Bothell man with a long history of drunken driving is the first person in King County to be charged under a new state law that makes a fifth DUI conviction a felony.

On Wednesday, prosecutors charged Karl Solid, 44, with one count of felony driving under the influence. A Washington State Patrol trooper reported seeing Solid's car drift off state Route 522 near Bothell and swerve into other lanes Saturday night.

Solid's blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.28 percent, according to charging papers. That is more than three times the legal limit.

If convicted as charged, Solid will face six to eight years in prison. Interim Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg said Solid's latest arrest is the kind of case the Legislature had in mind when it passed the new law, which makes a fifth DUI in 10 years a class C felony. The law took effect in July.

"By the time a driver has five DUI convictions, they are a clear and present danger to public safety," Satterberg said in a statement.

According to charging documents, Trooper Brian Dixon watched Solid's Honda Accord swerving and drifting off the road near Interstate 405.

When Dixon tried to pull Solid over, he continued driving, then stalled and drifted backward until he almost collided with the trooper's car.

The trooper saw that Dixon's face, shirt and arms were covered in blood. Solid said he had fallen going from his house to his car, "because he had been drinking," according to the trooper's account in charging papers. Dixon said Solid was so impaired that he had to hold him upright.

King County prosecutors said Solid has eight DUI-related convictions in Western Washington dating back to 1991. Five occurred in the past 10 years.

When arrested Saturday, Solid was driving on a revoked license. He also was on probation from a deferred DUI prosecution last year.

Solid, who also has theft and forgery convictions, remained in the King County Jail on Wednesday on $250,000 bail.

He is scheduled for arraignment Oct. 3.

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