Last week, Mello made a deal with prosecutors which would allow him to get the DUI reduced to a Negligent Driving in the First Degree if he complies with a list of requirements over a two year period. In exchange for not having the DUI offense on his record, Mello must pay fees of $900, take a defensive driving class, be treated for chemical dependency, if needed, and attend a panel of DUI victims. If he does all this and remains lawful, including not drinking and driving for two years, the DUI offense does not go on his record and he will be convicted of Negligent Driving in the First Degree, the News Tribune reported.
At first glance, this deal might sound like special treatment for government officials. But in reality, this type of deal is frequently offered to first-time offenders like Mello, whose BAC was just above Washington's legal limit of .08. Had he been in an accident and/or injured someone while drinking and driving, his punishment would have been much more severe.
In addition, the court proceedings were moved to Kitsap County despite the charges being filed in Pierce County. That's because Mello is friends with the Pierce County prosecutor, so the state wanted to avoid any perceived conflict of interest. But the most important lesson from this story is this: if you are arrested on DUI charges in Washington, it does not necessarily mean you will be convicted of that charge. Depending on the circumstances, you could be eligible for a deal like the one which was offered to Tacoma Councilman Mello. So be sure to contact a qualified DUI defense attorney if you ever find yourself in that situation.