By Natalie Johnson / email@example.com
A Mossyrock man convicted in 2001 of vehicular homicide pleaded guilty to a felony DUI charge Wednesday in Lewis County Superior Court, telling Superior Court Judge Andrew Toynbee he was sorry for relapsing into alcohol addiction.
Toynbee, citing his experience presiding over the county’s drug court, said he’s heard many defendants say they are grateful for an arrest, viewing it as an intervention in a growing addiction.
“I suppose if there’s a silver lining, that’s it,” he said.
James G. Blunt, 51, was sentenced Wednesday to 15 months in prison in accordance with a plea agreement.
Blunt has previously been convicted of DUI three times — in 1990, 1993 and 2000 — and in 2001 was convicted of vehicular homicide involving driving under the influence, for which he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
When Blunt was arrested Sept. 29 with an open bottle of alcohol in his vehicle, he faced another DUI charge, this time a felony.
Under Washington state law, a DUI is a misdemeanor offense unless a person has four or more previous convictions for the offense or has previously been convicted of vehicular assault or vehicular homicide involving a DUI.
“The state takes DUI very seriously,” said Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher.
Meagher noted the standard sentencing range for a felony DUI, given Blunt’s criminal history, was 13 months to 17 months, with a maximum sentence of 10 years.
He and defense attorney Kevin Nelson presented a joint recommendation for a 15-month sentence, which Toynbee imposed.
Blunt will also be subject to 12 months of monitoring under the state Department of Corrections’ Community Custody program.
He has been held on $50,000 bail since his first appearance in Lewis County Superior Court on Sept. 29 and will receive credit for his time already served.
According to court documents and the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, the deputies from the sheriff’s office conducted a traffic stop at 1:40 a.m. Sept. 29 of a vehicle going 65 miles per hour in a 50 mile-per-hour zone on Centralia-Alpha Road.
Blunt, the driver, had no valid driver’s license and was driving a vehicle with tabs taken from another vehicle.
He also allegedly had an open container of alcohol in the car and admitted to using marijuana before reportedly failing roadside sobriety tests.