Man sentenced after seventh DUI

John R. Schaack of Port Angeles apologizes to court

PORT ANGELES — An apologetic John Richard Schaack was sentenced Tuesday to more than 3½ years in prison for his seventh DUI.

Schaack was sentenced to 43 months confinement — the high end of the standard range — for driving four times over the legal limit for alcohol when he collided with multiple vehicles in west Port Angeles last June.

He pleaded guilty to one count of felony driving under the influence of alcohol with three or more prior DUIs in 10 years.

Schaack, 43, was found to have a 0.32 percent blood alcohol level after the Chevrolet Suburban he was driving was boxed in by two other vehicles on the 1900 block of West 18th Street on June 19, Port Angeles police said.

The legal driving limit in Washington is 0.08 percent.

“I believe AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) is probably going to be my saving grace,” Schaack told Superior Court Judge Lauren Erickson at sentencing in the Clallam County courthouse Tuesday.

“My apologies to the court. That’s all I have to say.”

Request

Defense attorney Charlie Commeree of Clallam Public Defender asked the court to impose a 33-month sentence for Schaack, the low end of the standard range.

“When I first met Mr. Schaack in custody, the first thing out of his mouth was ‘was anyone hurt?’” Commeree said.

“And when I told him that no, no one was hurt, I felt a huge relief in Mr. Schaack. This is notable because he had a real fear when I met him that he had hurt someone.

“As you might imagine with someone with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) as high as his, he wasn’t sure what happened,” Commeree added.

“He knew that he was in big, big trouble.”

Erickson imposed the sentence as recommended by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Steven Johnson.

In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors dismissed single counts of second-degree driving with a suspended license, driving without a functioning ignition interlock device and hit-and-run of an attended vehicle.

“I think here the seven prior DUIs, and also the combination of his not driving with a required interlock device, that the high end of the range is warranted — and also the level of the BAC,” Erickson said.

Strikes vehicles

Witnesses told police that Schaack struck a work truck on South L Street, continued along West 18th Street, pulled into a driveway and struck a second vehicle as he re-entered 18th Street at about 2:52 p.m. June 19, court papers said.

Police said the two hit-and-run victims used their vehicles to box-in the vehicle Schaack was driving.

Schaack was slurring his words and had bloodshot, watery eyes as he stumbled out of the vehicle, Officer JJ Smith said.

Police found multiple beer cans and a drug pipe inside the vehicle, according to the affidavit for probable cause.

After his arrest, Schaack provided two breath samples that registered blood alcohol levels of 0.314 and 0.322 percent, respectively.

“We are happy that the court followed the state’s recommendation and imposed 43 months,” Johnson said after the hearing.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Schaack has a demonstrated pattern of putting other people at risk when he gets behind the wheel.

“Combined with Mr. Schaack’s egregiously high BAC, this case clearly warranted a sentence at the high end of the standard range,” Johnson added.

According to court records, Schaack had four DUI convictions in California prior to 2011, another DUI in Clallam County in 2015 and a DUI in Kitsap County in 2018.

Schaack will be on community custody for one year after his release from prison.

“I appreciate, Mr. Schaack, that you didn’t intend to hurt anybody, but intention isn’t an element of this crime,” Erickson said.

“It’s just the fact that it happened.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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