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A Goldendale man with a history of multiple convictions for driving under the influence was sentenced to 15 months in prison Friday after a plea agreement was …
A Goldendale man with a history of multiple convictions for driving under the influence was sentenced to 15 months in prison Friday after a plea agreement was approved in Jefferson County Superior Court.
Forest Ethan Wanous pleaded guilty for felony driving under the influence during a change of plea hearing in court July 7.
Wanous was arrested for felony DUI at Dosewallips State Park in March. He was also accused of operating a vehicle without an ignition interlock, but that charge was dropped as part of the plea agreement.
During his hearing late last week, Court Commissioner Micky Forbes noted Wanous had been found guilty of DUI at least three times in the last decade.
“Is that accurate?” she asked the defendant.
“Yes, ma’am. I’m not proud of that,” he answered.
His most recent DUI arrest was on the afternoon of Tuesday,
The Washington State Patrol was called to Dosewallips State Park after a parks employee said he witnessed the driver of a light blue sedan, later identified as Wanous, stumbling away from the ranger station toward his running car.
The parks employee said he approached the man, who had an “overwhelming smell of intoxicants,” according to court documents, and saw multiple bottles of alcohol in the sedan.
When asked by a state trooper how much he had to drink, Wanous allegedly answered something to the effect of, “not much, I’m an alcoholic.”
Wanous failed field sobriety tests and was placed under arrest. Multiple empty beer cans were found inside his car, along with shot glasses of Fireball Whisky.
During Friday’s hearing, Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Chris Ashcraft said Wanous had a record of four DUIs, going back to 2014. Two were in Oregon, and the other two in Washington. (During an earlier hearing, Ashcraft said Wanous had six prior DUIs altogether, with four of those offenses happening in the last six years.)
The standard sentencing range for felony DUI is 15 to 20 months, Ashcraft added, and said the recommendations of the plea deal would put Wanous in prison rather than county jail. Wanous would also be on probation for 12 months, under the supervision of the state Department of Corrections.
Additional conditions of the deal included an evaluation for alcohol use and participation in a treatment plan, plus $500 in legal costs.
Ashcraft also said the defendant had agreed with the terms of the plea agreement.
“It sounds like he’s pretty sincere right now,” Ashcraft said.
Samuel Feinson, the attorney representing Wanous, said his client has already been getting assistance for his addiction problems while in jail.
“Mr. Wanous has probably beat himself up more about this than the court can,” Feinson said.
“I don’t think it’s a mystery when someone gets to this point, that they have a significant and troubled relationship with alcohol,” he added.
The proposed sentence was appropriate in light of the circumstances, Feinson said.
Wanous’ greatest fear, his attorney added, is what happens after prison.
“He’s essentially lost his career,” Feinson said.
Wanous had worked as a lineman for utility companies after serving in the Marines, Feinson said, and rather than serve time in county jail, Wanous is hoping to participate in programs available through the Department of Corrections.
Before his sentencing, Wanous told the pro tem judge he was at a significant point in his life.
“I never thought I’d get myself into this position. But I did,” he said.
“I have been sober in my life and I’m ready to do that again,” Wanous said. “I think I’m a good person but I’m not a good person when I’m drinking. And it’s kind of confusing.”
Forbes said she hoped Wanous could find all the support he needs, including after his release.
“This is obviously a watershed moment,” Forbes said. “This is a felony. This is unavoidable prison time. I hope that you will be able to make it be a moment in which you actually master the demons with all the help and support that you can find.”
Forbes agreed to a sentence of 15 months, with credit for time already served.
“I hope that you can find all the support that you need, and in particular, when you’re released and come back into the community, that you do find your way to the resources that are actually here to help you. Maybe it will be a magic moment in your life,” Forbes said.
“I wish you all the best going forward.”