PORT TOWNSEND — A Neah Bay man has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges that stem from an incident on New Year’s Day during which he allegedly led law enforcement officers on a chase throughout the city and into unincorporated Jefferson County.
Alexander Warrick Wise, 23, pleaded not guilty on Friday in Jefferson County Superior Court to driving under the influence of alcohol, a gross misdemeanor, and attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle with an endangerment enhancement.
The eluding charge, a Class C felony, is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
Wise, who appeared before Judge Keith Harper by video conference from the Jefferson County Jail, also pleaded not guilty to hit and run property damage, a misdemeanor.
Wise remained in jail on Saturday in lieu of $200,000 bail. His trial date is scheduled to begin March 2.
Defense attorney Scott Charlton of Jefferson Associated Counsel argued Friday that Wise’s bail was set too high and should be reduced to $20,000 because he hasn’t failed to appear in court in the past.
Charlton said Wise was charged with bail jumping in a Clallam County case, although the charge eventually was dismissed.
Chris Ashcraft, the county’s chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney, cited a separate active case outside of Jefferson County for which Wise has an outstanding warrant.
The case has been active since last January, Ashcraft said.
“I’m not sure Mr. Wise is aware of that,” Charlton said. “We weren’t provided that information.”
Harper considered the argument but kept the bail amount where it was.
“I realize the bail set is high,” he said. “However, I believe he’s an extreme high risk to not show up where he’s supposed to.”
Wise was arrested Jan. 1 after he allegedly rammed a vehicle driven by a Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputy, ran over a fence and a propane tank, and then led law enforcement officers from multiple jurisdictions on a high-speed chase through Port Townsend.
When pursuing officers briefly called off the pursuit due to public safety concerns, reports to dispatchers referred to a person driving erratically, allegedly hitting road signs and another vehicle in a hit-and-run collision, according to the police report.
Eventually, officers re-engaged with the driver and used a pursuit intervention technique to disable Wise’s vehicle as he attempted to turn onto Airport Road, the report said.
A preliminary screening showed Wise’s blood-alcohol content to be 0.216, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08, according to the report.
“The allegations of the probable cause statement are extremely alarming,” Harper said to Wise as he was considering bail arguments. “While you haven’t been convicted of anything in this case, it would seem to corroborate the very extreme risk to the safety of the community.”
Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.