Ferndale woman has 4 DUI-related convictions in 13 years — she’s been arrested again

Washington state arrests for driving under the influence

The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs collect crime statistics from agencies that serve about 92% of the state. The most recent numbers available are from 2017.
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The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs collect crime statistics from agencies that serve about 92% of the state. The most recent numbers available are from 2017.

A Ferndale woman is scheduled to appear Friday, May 10, in Whatcom County Superior Court on a felony charge of driving under the influence — her fifth DUI arrest in 13 years.

A Bellingham police officer arrested Marie Gabrielle Jefferson, 33, in the 1500 block of King Street after he saw her weaving in her lane and run a red light at approximately 2 a.m. April 27, police Lt. Claudia Murphy told The Bellingham Herald.

“A criminal history revealed Jefferson had enough prior DUI arrests/convictions to elevate this arrest to a felony,” Murphy said.

Court records show that Jefferson has four DUI and DUI-related convictions going back 13 years:

In 2017, she was convicted of DUI in Whatcom County District Court.

In 2014, she was convicted of DUI in Bellingham Municipal Court.

In 2010, she pleaded guilty to reckless driving in Bonney Lake Municipal Court after being arrested on suspicion of DUI in Sumner.

In 2006, she was convicted of DUI in Bellingham Municipal Court.

Under a Washington state drunk-driving law that was toughened in 2017, a fourth DUI conviction within 10 years is a Class B felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

“Part of the affidavit of probable cause is that she has three prior offenses that are DUI or DUI-qualified offenses,” said Benjamin Pratt, the Whatcom County deputy prosecutor who’s handling the case.

Pratt told The Herald he intends to pursue the felony charge.

Court records show that the arresting officer said Jefferson failed a field sobriety test on April 27 and refused a breath test for alcohol use. Results of a blood test were pending, according to court records.

Officer George Clark talks about a St. Patrick's Day DUI emphasis patrol that took place throughout Thurston County.

In Washington state, drivers with a blood alcohol level of .08% within two hours of their arrest are considered impaired.

Jefferson was booked into Whatcom County Jail on suspicion of felony DUI, second-degree driving with a suspended license and operating a vehicle without an ignition interlock device.

She was released Wednesday on $8,000 bail and is scheduled to enter a plea during her court appearance Friday. As a condition of her release, Jefferson is not allowed to drink or to drive.

Stephen Jackson, her public defender, said he couldn’t discuss the case outside court.

It’s the first felony DUI arrest in Whatcom County since the state Legislature defeated a law last week that would have counted DUI and DUI-related convictions going back 15 years toward a felony.

Legislative records show that House Bill 1504 passed unanimously in the House and 48-1 in the Senate, but the House rejected proposed Senate amendments on Sunday, the last day of the session. A similar Senate bill never made it out of committee last session.

For the DUI conviction in 2017, Jefferson was sentenced to 363 days in jail with 184 days suspended, a $2,621 fine and five years probation, a court official said.

She was sentenced to 364 days in jail with 244 days suspended for the Bellingham DUI in 2014 and sentenced to 365 days in jail with 259 suspended and a credit for two days served for the Sumner reckless-driving case in 2010, court officials said.

In the 2006 DUI case, she received 365 days in jail with 363 days suspended from the Bellingham court.

Each arrest also came with varying amounts of fines, according to the clerks in each of the four courts where Jefferson was sentenced on DUI-related charges.

Pratt said that states are trending toward tougher enforcement and penalties for DUI cases.

In Oregon, the felony threshhold is two prior DUI cases within 10 years

Overall cost of additional prosecution and imprisonment appeared to be the sticking point for the tougher bills under consideration in Washington state, according to a March editorial in the Seattle Times.

Robert Mittendorf covers civic issues, weather, traffic and how people are coping with the high cost of housing for The Bellingham Herald. A journalist since 1984, he’s also a volunteer firefighter for South Whatcom Fire Authority.