Miss Washington USA Dethroned After DUI Conviction Leak
Just this past Thursday, January 14th, Miss Washington USA, Stormy Keffeler, returned her beauty queen crown after information leaked that she was found guilty for driving under the influence a month before the crowing of the Miss Washington USA Pageant.
On October 18th, Keffeler, a 23-year-old former professional linebacker for the Seattle Women's Lingerie football team, was crowned Miss Washington USA. Six months before trading in her football helmet for the beauty pageant crown, Keffeler was pulled over by police while driving through Seattle's East Precinct with two flat tires. According to the police report, the responding officer smelled alcohol on Keffeler's breath and upon exiting the vehicle, Keffeler “stumbled… was unsteady on her feet and swayed.” Documents filed in Seattle Municipal Court state that the former beauty queen's blood-alcohol level was close to three times above the .08 legal limit -- blowing a BAC of 0.229.
In September, just a month before the pageant, Keffeler pleaded guilty to the DUI charge. According to various news reports, Keffeler failed to notify pageant officials about her run-in with the law, which is against the competition's rules, which state that entrants must not engage in “any type of” illegal behavior or activity -- “any felony conviction, probation, or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude.” Pageant officials were only recently made aware of the conviction through an email tip-off early this January.
Maureen Francisco, the co-executive producer of Northwest Productions and Miss Washington USA said the pageant had shared the information of Keffeler's conviction with the Miss Universe Organization to see whether Keffeler would be allow to keep her crown. After a ‘legal discussion' between the pageant production company and other pageant organizers, Keffeler voluntarily stepped down from her reign. According to Francisco, first runner-up Kelsey Schmidt will assume title immediately and represent Washington State at the USA event later this year.
Severe Mandatory Penalties for first offense Washington DUI conviction
Penalties for a driver convicted of a DUI in Washington can range from jail time to probation and will almost always include hefty fines. As a result of Keffeler's conviction, she was sentenced to two days in jail, 24 months of probation and a fine of $1,196. She was also ordered to serve five additional days in jail after the crowning at the Miss Washington USA Pageant. Although Keffeler was de-throned, her sentence was fairly reasonable considering the strict Washington state penalties for a DUI conviction.
In Washington state, a first-time DUI conviction is a gross misdemeanor -- meaning a person convicted can face up to a year in jail, a $5,000 fine, and a maximum of five years probation. Although those are the maximum penalties for a first-time DUI conviction, mandatory penalties of all three aspects of the penalties are required and a judge has no discretion to go below the minimums. Even for a first offense, a person convicted must serve a minimum of one day (24 consecutive hours in jail, serve a license suspension for at least 90 days and have an ignition interlock for at least one year. If a person's breath or blood test are greater than a .15, or if they refuse the test at the station or hospital, then the penalties are more severe including a minimum of 2 days (48 consecutive hours) in jail. Because of these harsh penalties, hiring an experienced Seattle DUI attorney is important for anyone facing the prospect of DUI charges.