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Tacoma councilman avoids DUI charge in deal with prosecutors

Post by Adam Lynn / The News Tribune on Feb. 26, 2013 at 11:37 am with No Comments »
February 26, 2013 5:17 pm

UPDATE at 5:16 p.m.: The councilman expressed contrition Tuesday and said he hoped “to stay focused on doing the public’s work and improving our community.”

“I certainly made a mistake, and I’m very sorry,” Mello told The News Tribune. “I also chose to take full responsibility for my actions and go through the process and do everything the prosecutor asked me to do.”

PREVIOUS POST: Tacoma City Councilman Ryan Mello, charged last week with DUI,  has reached a deal with Kitsap County prosecutors that would allow him to avoid a criminal record if he remains crime-free and abides by other conditions for the next two years.

The deal, approved Friday by Kitsap County District Court Judge Stephen Holman, calls for Mello to maintain a valid driver’s license and insurance, attend a DUI victim’s panel, seek chemical dependency treatment, avoid drinking and driving, and complete a six-hour defensive driving class. He also is required to pay $900 in fees. Mello would be convicted of the reduced misdemeanor charge of first-degree negligent driving should he fail to hold up his end of the deal, according to the terms of the agreement.

Mello has already complied with many of the conditions, court records show.

Claire Bradley, chief deputy prosecuting attorney for Kitsap County, said the deal is fairly standard for a first-time offender like Mello, whose blood-alcohol level was close to the legal limit at the time of his arrest.

“There were no aggravating factors (no collision, defendant was cooperative with law enforcement, etc.), and the defendant had already done all of the requirements we would request (chemical dependency evaluation, Alcohol Drug Information School and DUI Victim’s Panel), so when all those factors are present, it is a pretty standard agreement,” Bradley said in an email to The News Tribune.

Mello was arrested in Tacoma during the early-morning hours of Jan. 20 after a state trooper pulled him over on Interstate 705 after Mello allegedly made a series of lane changes on northbound Interstate 5.

Breath tests administered that night recorded blood-alcohol levels of 0.088 and 0.09, according to a police report. Mello allegedly admitted to having a rum and Coke and a glass of wine an hour before.

The case was prosecuted by Kitsap County because Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist is friends with Mello.



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