King County man pleads not guilty to 17th DUI

SEATTLE – Seventeen DUI’s, that’s how many times a King County man has been charged for drinking and driving.

Dwight Benson, 70, pleaded not guilty to his charges Thursday and is being held on $1 million bail after his latest alleged DUI incident damaged a car he crashed into head-on.

Benson’s trouble with the law and drinking and driving reaches back to the 1980’s. He has been charged with negligent driving, DUI, reckless driving and hit and run so many times – prosecutors call Dwight a habitual offender and that he’s “incredibly dangerous to the community.”

Benson’s younger brother Keith says Dwight has beaten cancer, has adult children, served in the military and is overall a good person but no matter how many times his family tried to push him to get help it never seemed to work.

“It was the love for him for driving and drinking,” said Keith. “The two together seem to be his Achilles heel.”

Earlier this year, the Washington State Patrol reported that DUI arrests are on the rise across our state. Of the more than 500 people who died last year in crashes, about half of them were killed by an impaired driver.

“I believe the biggest public safety issue that we have on our streets right now,” said mark Medalen from the WTSC.

Keith says how Dwight has managed to rack up so many dui charges without killing someone is a miracle but, getting him to quit drinking and driving will likely take an act of god or tougher laws.

“For him not to hurt anybody 17 times, we’ve got a miracle right there,” Keith said.