Henry Griffin says he still bears scars from the time he leapt, terrified, from a Ferrari driven by a drunk man fleeing police at 100 mph.
So he wasn’t surprised to learn last month that the driver of that speeding sports car had been arrested again on suspicion of impaired driving. It was Joseph Shaun Goodman’s eighth DUI arrest in 26 years.
“That’s what chronic drunk drivers do: they keep driving drunk,” said Griffin, 33, of Olympia“I hope he gets stopped before he kills someone.”
Goodman appeared Monday in Seattle Municipal Court on charges of driving under the influence, driving without an ignition interlock, and hit-and-run on a parked vehicle.
He represents one of Washington state’s most extreme cases of repeat DUIs, but because of how much time elapsed between each prior conviction, his arrests have never resulted in felony charges. That places Goodman among a small cohort of people whom lawmakers have in mind as they consider stricter DUI penalties.
Goodman and his attorney both declined to comment when reached by phone.
Every impaired driver is a threat to public safety, whether it’s their first arrest or their 12th conviction, said Lt. Rob Sharpe, former head of the Washington State Patrol’s Impaired Driving Section. But, he said, “the people that don’t learn their lesson the first time and continue to put people in danger” may require special strategies.
Of the roughly 150,000 people who were convicted of driving under the influence in Washington between 2008 and 2017, two-thirds have so far stopped at one DUI conviction, according to a state Department of Licensing database.
Of those with multiple DUIs, almost 41,000 had two convictions, the database shows. The numbers get smaller from there: 12,354 drivers had three convictions; 3,630 (or 1.8% of the total) had four convictions; 1,139 had five convictions; 393 had six; 141 people — including Goodman — had seven; 43 had eight convictions; 13 people had nine; five had 10; and two had 11.
Felony DUI charges would bring more stringent penalties and oversight, said Shelly Baldwin of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.
But felony DUIs are uncommon in Washington state. Here, for most people, DUI is a misdemeanor.
A driver in Washington can be charged with felony DUI, which carries jail or prison time, only if they have been convicted of three other DUIs in the past 10 years.
Goodman’s other cases have been spread out just enough that he has avoided felony charges, even though his driving history is “off most charts that we have,” Baldwin said. His DUI arrests have happened in 1993, 1994, 1999, 2004, 2006, 2011 and 2013, according to court records and the Thurston County District Court clerk’s office.
The state Legislature is considering changing these laws to widen the “look-back” window from 10 years to 15. Officials have estimated that such a change would lead to 129 more felony DUI convictions and incarcerations per year.
House Bill 1504, which passed the state Senate on Wednesday and is headed back to the House for further consideration, would also lengthen standard DUI sentences in cases of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault, as well as for cases when children younger than 16 are in the car.
Had the window been 15 years when Goodman was arrested last month, he could have been facing felony charges right now.
The same is true of his seventh DUI arrest, in December 2013, when he led police on a 100 mph chase through downtown Olympia with Griffin screaming in the passenger seat.
Griffin and a group of friends had been at the West Side Tavern in Olympia when Goodman, the owner of Vantage Communications, came in flashing $100 bills and buying drinks for the crowd, Griffin said.
One of Griffin’s friends invited Goodman to go with them to another bar, and Goodman offered Griffin a ride in his silver Ferrari, according to court documents.
Griffin said they were hardly out of the parking lot when the cops pulled up behind them and Goodman began speeding up, and as Griffin begged Goodman to let him out, Goodman explained that he had a young son and said, “I can’t.”
As Goodman slowed to take a corner, Griffin jumped out, suffering injuries to his back that he said still bother him today.
The case sparked a public outcry when Goodman was sentenced to 364 days of work release from jail after a judge determined that a more restrictive sentence would harm his small telecommunications business, his employees and the community.
Critics said Goodman’s wealth seemed to get him preferential treatment and a lax sentence. They were outraged, too, when a Thurston County judge allowed Goodman to attend the 2014 Super Bowl in New Jersey while his criminal case was pending.
But Thurston County prosecutor Jim Powers endorsed the sentence, which he says is at the high end of the standard sentencing range for a misdemeanor DUI. Powers said last month that he didn’t know how much money Goodman made but that wouldn’t have affected his decision on how to charge him.
He said he is not averse to “hammering” defendants when it’s warranted but that, in his experience, people with addiction disorders embrace treatment more readily when they have not been stripped of hope.
“Others said I should have argued for straight time instead [of work release], applying the rationale of hitting him as hard as possible and taking away the life he had,” said Powers in an email. “That might have better deterred him, but in over 36 years of working as a prosecutor, I have not seen any real evidence it works that way. The vast majority of crimes are not committed pursuant to a cost-benefit analysis engaged in beforehand, especially crimes linked to addiction.”
In the end, Goodman did spend a few months in jail — not because of the DUI alone, but because he was found to be stalking a former domestic partner while he was on work release.
The 47-year-old’s arrest last month in Seattle came after a witness reported that the driver of an Audi SUV that was missing a tire had run a red light, crashed into a sign at the end of Bay Street off Elliott Avenue, left the car and hid near a stairwell in an alley. Police said they later tracked the car’s path by tracing the trail of gouges and scrapes on the sidewalks and roads where he’d been seen.
When officers found Goodman, they smelled a “very strong odor of alcohol coming from his breath and body,” according to the police report. When asked if he’d been drinking, Goodman reportedly told police he’d had two glasses of wine before the Seattle Sounders match and three more at the game.
According to the officer who wrote the report, Goodman was dismayed at the idea of having to have an ignition interlock for 10 more years and “seemed to have no idea the danger he caused to the public on this particular evening.”
Griffin said he feels empathy for Goodman, who he believes has an alcohol addiction, but thinks he should lose his right to drive forever.
“He should never be able to get behind the wheel again,” he said.