Renton man arrested for 11th DUI, called 'grave danger to community'

Dean Karl Hermsen was charged this week with felony DUI, marking his 11th DUI arrest. (Photo: WSP)

SEATTLE -- A Renton man has been arrested for his 11th DUI, the Washington State Patrol says.

Dean Karl Hermsen was charged this week with felony DUI, violation of ignition interlock and driving while a license is suspended or revoked in the third degree.

Court documents show a long history of DUIs, including a conviction for felony DUI in December 2010 for which he was sentenced in 41 months, While on community custody for that conviction, he was arrested again for DUI. Court documents say he was subsequently convicted of felony DUI in October 2013 and sentenced to 60 months.

"He simply cannot refrain from being impaired and driving," a prosecutor wrote in court documents. "He is a grave danger to the community and to himself."

The most recent arrest came early on the morning on April 14, when a patrol cadet and a training officer were on the ramp from southbound Interstate 5 to Albro Place.

They were investigating smoke in the area when a car pulled behind them on the shoulder. The driver got out and, after a field sobriety test, was arrested for drunken driving.

The Washington State Patrol said a driver's license check identified the man as Hermsen. The State Patrol said he had 10 previous DUIs.

Hermsen was supposed to have an ignition interlock device for his car. But the car he was driving did not have one, the patrol said.

Washington’s Traffic Safety Commission says one third of the drivers pulled over for DUI have at least one prior for the crime. They say one future solution could be DUI court, a specialized program that gives repeat offenders supervision and treatment for addiction and mental illness.

“Without that, there are going to be people who fall through the cracks,” WTSC Legislative and Media Relations Manager Shelly Baldwin said. “These hardcore DUI offenders need intensive supervision. It’s not okay to put somebody in prison, and then release them without any treatment or oversight.”

Baldwin says only four Washington counties (Thurston, Clark, Spokane and Yakima) have DUI courts, largely because of the funding needed. But she believes those courts will save counties money in the long run by ending cycles of driving under the influence.

She also stressed the significant strides made in DUI prevention with ignition interlock devices.

Hermsen was booked into the King County Jail for investigation of felony DUI.

He is being held on $500,000 bail. His arraignment is scheduled for May 1st.

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