A woman who has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol has had her case moved from Puyallup Municipal Court to Pierce County because of ethical concerns, according to a city official.
Puyallup City Attorney Kevin Yamamoto said Karen Hansen’s case was moved to Pierce County District Court because she’s the wife of Puyallup Mayor Rick Hansen. She was arraigned there on Jan. 14.
“Because we, as city attorneys, represent the City of Puyallup through its officials and employees, and because one of the officials is Mayor Rick Hansen, significant ethical issues arise if we attempt to prosecute (Hansen’s) wife,” Yamamoto said. “Thus, as standard practice, we arranged for (Karen Hansen’s) case to be moved to Pierce County District Court, which has concurrent jurisdiction over misdemeanor cases that arise in Puyallup.”
Hansen’s trial is set for May 8.
“At this time, Ms. Hansen enjoys all the constitutional protections afforded to an accused person in our courts,” said Martin Duenhoelter, Hansen’s defense attorney.
Duenhoelter said he disagrees with the transfer of Hansen’s case to Pierce County District Court.
“Puyallup has its own courts,” Duenhoelter said. “My job is to argue that it needs to stay in Puyallup. It happened there. That is the proper venue.”
Yamamoto said if Hansen’s case were to remain in Puyallup Municipal Court, then Judge Andrea Beall likely would have to excuse herself from the proceedings.
“We attorneys would have to arrange for a special prosecutor to prosecute the case,” Yamamoto said.
A Puyallup police officer stopped Karen Hansen on Dec. 11, 2012, after she allegedly ran a red light from West Pioneer onto North 5th Street Southwest, according to documents submitted by the Pierce County prosecuting attorney’s office.
Hansen submitted to a portable breath test that showed a reading of more than three times the legal limit of 0.08, according to the police report. She was transported to the Puyallup City Jail, where she submitted additional breath samples above the legal limit, according to the report.
Hansen initially was arraigned Dec. 14 in Puyallup Municipal Court and charged with gross misdemeanor DUI.
If convicted, a maximum penalty for DUI with no prior offense is 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. A mandatory minimum sentencing is two consecutive days and a $1,195.50 fine.
A driver’s license is revoked for one year, and the state Department of Licensing requires an ignition interlock device be installed in the defendant’s vehicle.
Interlock devices connect to the ignition and require the driver to blow into it to start the car. If alcohol is detected on the breath, the car does not start.
Reach Reporter Andrew Fickes at 253-552-7001 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.