FOLLOWUP: Repeat drunk driver jailed after bridge crash, bail set at $100,000

(WSB reader photo from Tuesday crash, courtesy Raquel)
The man who flipped his car on the eastbound West Seattle Bridge Tuesday afternoon is a repeat drunk driver who is in jail right now, bail set at $100,000. He and his 1-year-old daughter, who was in the back seat, escaped injury, as did the people in the three other cars involved, according to Seattle Fire. But police soon discovered that he was wanted on a warrant, which is why we’re identifying him as 32-year-old Christopher T. Martin of Renton.

According to the documents from his bail hearing this afternoon, Martin first told police the crash happened because he was passing a snack to his daughter, then later said he wasn’t sure why he crashed. Police also say he first told them he had been driving a gray Honda, when in reality he had been driving a red Ford. Police said he smelled of alcohol, and that he told them he had consumed one alcoholic drink 5 or 6 hours earlier, and also smoked “a bowl” of marijuana. They discovered Martin had a warrant for failing to appear in connection with a drunk-driving case that happened downtown three years ago; we looked up that case and found he had taken a breath test that showed him at three times the legal drunkenness level, and that his record at that time showed two DUI arrests in 2010 and two in 2003. Prosecutors wrote at that time that Martin “either cannot or will not refrain from driving impaired and is a grave danger to the community.” The case remains unresolved because of his failure to appear, for which an arrest warrant was issued in September 2012. (He had been allowed out on work release weeks after his May 2012 arrest.)

The new court documents also say he was driving despite a suspended driver license. According to Seattle Fire, neither Martin nor his toddler were hurt in the crash. King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office spokesperson Dan Donohoe says a judge found probable cause to hold Martin for investigation of reckless driving, reckless endangerment, and negligent driving while prosecutors review the case for potential charges; he’s due back in court on Friday.

40 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Repeat drunk driver jailed after bridge crash, bail set at $100,000"

  • Throw the book at him June 17, 2015 (5:49 pm)


  • M June 17, 2015 (5:56 pm)

    With his daughter in the back seat? This guy needs to be taken off the streets.

  • sc June 17, 2015 (5:56 pm)

    Where was the little girl’s mother?

    • WSB June 17, 2015 (6:09 pm)

      Don’t know, no mention in the narrative, no one else in their vehicle.

  • MWL June 17, 2015 (6:08 pm)

    Drunk on a Tuesday afternoon, kid in tow. Unbelievable. This kid has a rough future ahead. Makes me sad.

  • Lynne June 17, 2015 (6:09 pm)

    It’s the mother’s fault, of course. Thanks for reminding us, sc.

  • WS Hipster June 17, 2015 (6:11 pm)

    Thanks for the excellent follow-up WSB, I was curious what the factors were in this crash.


    This fellow needs some time away in a penal institution. I pray for the future of his daughter.

  • JanS June 17, 2015 (6:16 pm)

    As a grandmother of a 1 yo grandson, I find this abhorrent. If this man wants to drink, drive , and go out and hurt/kill himself, let’s give him a private track on which to do that. I do not blame the mother. She may have been at work, may have been at home drinking herself, maybe is no longer there. For this child’s sake, I am hoping (sadly) that she is removed from the home. I am assuming that since dad was arrested, she was placed with CPS. That’s not the answer, but hopefully there is a family out there that would be willing to give this child a better home, a better upbringing, and more love than she gets now. This hurts my heart :(

    • WSB June 17, 2015 (6:27 pm)

      Please, let’s NOT speculate on people who weren’t involved in this incident. All we know is:
      -Car crashed, man and toddler, identified in police report as his daughter, were inside
      -Man had warrant, was arrested, is in jail, had bail hearing today
      I am not even remotely trying to excuse or explain this behavior but want to point out that parents DO drive/otherwise travel alone with their children, both fathers and mothers, for a variety of reasons. Doesn’t mean the other parent is negligent or absent. Also, we don’t know if he was legally drunk in this incident. As noted above, the judge found probable cause to hold him for investigation of other possible charges. There is no mention of a blood-alcohol level here, which could mean test results pending, or who knows. If charges are filed later this week, more information may become available – police had told us this morning, before the bail hearing confirmed the ID of the person on the jail register we *thought* was the suspect, that it remained an “active investigation.” – TR

  • Brenda June 17, 2015 (6:26 pm)

    Lock this selfish idiot up.

  • alki resident June 17, 2015 (6:30 pm)

    As I posted yesterday, my friend witnessed this right in front him. He saw crying baby and smelled father of the years alcohol breath and immediately wanted to rip him out of the car. So heartbreaking this trash put so many lives at risk. The guy even said “this isn’t my fault”. My friend said, the hell it’s not. This guy is a danger to everybody and should not be released. Next time, he will kill someone.

  • John June 17, 2015 (7:10 pm)

    I hope this poor child grows up in a home away from this man so that she receives the care and support she needs to be a success in life. She could easily have been killed. I hope he does the appropriate time in prison.

  • Joe Szilagyi June 17, 2015 (7:20 pm)

    Who owned the red car? It should be illegal to sell, lease, or loan a car to someone with a suspended license.

  • Jason June 17, 2015 (7:21 pm)

    I’m really happy the 1 year old survived, ugh how scary. Hopefully this will be the thing that helps this guy get it together, I know if that were me I would have a hard time living with myself.

  • JKB June 17, 2015 (7:37 pm)

    Lots of discussion elsewhere about excessive incarceration – in general, and specifically the effect on kids of taking a parent away.

    MADD and others have pressed for penalties on DUI for decades, and we’ve repeatedly toughened the rules.

    Prohibition didn’t work, and apparently the War On Drugs isn’t either. Back to the excess-incarceration problem.

    I don’t have a solution. Just the observation that we’ve put a lot into criminal penalties, and we’re having the same conversation we had thirty years ago.

  • sc June 17, 2015 (8:19 pm)

    Not saying the mother is at fault, just wondered who let a small child be with this man?
    Someone did.

  • Community Member June 17, 2015 (8:31 pm)

    I think ALL cars should come standard with an ignition interlock device. Seems like a basic safety item, and it doesn’t just need to be something that gets installed after DUIs. Cars could be built so it is essentially impossible for the first DUI to happen. The technology exists. It would take a few decades, but it is an option that would focus on prevention rather than incarceration.

  • dsa June 17, 2015 (9:17 pm)

    As far as I can tell the current charges do not say dui “yet”. The alcohol smell could have come from another source, such as a broken, but unopen bottle.
    They have plenty of charges stacked up without dui anyway.

  • rob June 17, 2015 (9:22 pm)

    Laws about drunk driving will never get tougher. We have the head of our school board caught drunk driving and many other city and state officials doing the same even judges. Our politicians will never write a law that might put them away for a long time

  • ChefJoe June 17, 2015 (9:40 pm)

    Well, that’s a radical idea Community Member. Maybe we should also mandate that brakes on bikes and vehicles immediately lock up if they approach a red light too fast and bars make sure nobody walks home drunk, since that’s more dangerous than driving home (mile for mile).
    …if you need to walk a mile from a party to your home, you’re eight times more likely to die doing that than if you jump behind the wheel and drive your car that same mile.

  • pjmanley June 17, 2015 (10:09 pm)

    @rob: Entirely untrue. The DUI laws have gotten progressively tougher in each legislative session for years, casting an ever-widening net, lowering the legal standard to .08 from 1.0, etc. And Randy Dorn is OSPI, not our (Seattle) School Board, just to clarify. No matter what laws we pass, a specific subset of drivers – chronic inebriates – won’t follow them because of their disease. This guy sounds like one, and MADD will certainly use this case to push for more and wider DUI laws, but the focus on this particular group would yield big impacts. Meanwhile, they are ticking time-bombs on our roadways, and when they go off, the results are usually very bad.

  • JanS June 17, 2015 (10:17 pm)

    if there is to be “punishment”, I would like to see said “punishment ” be in an extended rehab place, with plenty of counseling…this guy needs to get right, not thrown in with whoever to rot for a while, and come out wanting a drink immediately…

  • Hc June 17, 2015 (10:53 pm)

    SC and Lynne don’t try to blame the mom.

  • rob June 17, 2015 (10:54 pm)

    Pjmanlely If are laws are getting tougher then why does it take three times getting caught before any talk of jail time. First time should be at least six months jail but again are state leaders will never pass it as to protect them selves. story out Cal where several state law makers were caught with DUI to solve the problem they passed a spending bill to pay for a private cab and towing service to take them and there car home if they drink to much.

  • Eric1 June 17, 2015 (11:14 pm)

    I do want certain classes of criminals to serve more jail time. Drunk drivers cause an inordinate amount of grief upon the world. Many innocent people have lost their lives to drunks. DUI should be a strike crime.
    DUI is totally preventable and there is NO excuse. If you can’t learn from the first two arrests then you are not allowed to play in the real world anymore. So tired of excuses by the drunks and the community. How many people would be that forgiving to a person CAUGHT shooting a gun randomly 3 times on a busy street corner? How many times wasn’t he caught? Would you care if he had a “disease”? I think not…

  • BMC June 18, 2015 (6:57 am)

    well….at least he had her IN a car seat! Don’t you occasionally see little kids NOT in them or on the front of a newer car? I do! I always think I should call 911 but remember then, that in the “olden days” we didn’t use them so I hesitate.

  • Community Member June 18, 2015 (7:24 am)

    @ChefJoe – “vehicles immediately lock up if they approach a red light too fast” – But you know that’s on its way, right? Well, not “locking up”, but cars taking over the braking to avoid/mitigate an accident? That will be a standard feature soon.
    Why not have cars that prevent the initial DUI, instead of taxpayer-funded incarceration after someone is killed?

  • Pete June 18, 2015 (7:55 am)

    Locking folks up is not the answer. Have we not learned yet that we as a society cannot incarcerate our way out of certain social problems? Alcoholism is a disease and needs to be treated as such. It is far less costly to send folks to a treatment program than it is to lock them up. No solution is perfect but we need to try going down other roads than just immediately throwing folks in jail. As our prison population has expanded in this country has it really solved any problems?

  • Tony S June 18, 2015 (8:12 am)

    I had read that the majority of major drunk driving incidents (such as this one) are the result of habitual, repeat offenders that laws have made no impact on. They will continue to drive impaired regardless of the consequences. I’m not condoning having two beers with friends then driving home. But it’s clear there’s an enormous gulf in the levels of impairment between the habitual drunk and the casual user in regards to the level of damage and mayhem they cause.


    I didn’t see the comments of SC and Lynne as “accusing” the mother of being negligent in causing this. The inquiry is valid … hopefully the child back in her responsible custody.

  • Brian June 18, 2015 (8:14 am)

    @Community Member: That technology is already in the works:

  • ChefJoe June 18, 2015 (8:39 am)

    Community Member, because ignition interlocks need calibration to be any sort of accurate and mandating a safety feature like that for cars but leaving out motorcycles, bikes, scooters, and whatever else is on the road (heck, maybe those electric scooters should be DUI-proof for safety) is going overboard.
    Detecting a collision is very different from requiring ignition interlocks in every car. It’s like making sure all dogs have a muzzle on before being outside, because they could attack a stranger.

  • Felix June 18, 2015 (9:17 am)

    ChefJoe…8 times more likely to njure yourself but nearly 100℅ less likely too injure someone else…Who are we more worried about..the Drunk walker or the Victim of the Drunk Driver?

  • Car seat mama June 18, 2015 (10:38 am)

    BMC good point! This is a great example of how very imprortant child safety seats are! I don’t know if this child was properly restained, but ALL young children should be restrained in a 5 point system. PLEASE call the police if you see an unrestrained child! The police can help people get affordable carseats. Check out,, or for more info.

  • Community Member June 18, 2015 (11:20 am)

    Thanks Brian. I know the technology is here. When I said it would take decades, I meant that older cars without the feature would remain on the roads.
    ChefJoe – I picture the safety feature as being more like air bags. They are there, but you can have a car for many, many years and the air bags never get used. They dont need to be so sensitive that they stop someone from driving after one or two drinks.
    . And you choose funny analogies. If you want to compare it to dogd who “might” bite, I think a leash law might be a better analogy.

  • anonyme June 18, 2015 (4:31 pm)

    Community Member, I think you’re on the right track. Laws won’t cure stupidity or bad judgement, but technology could help mitigate the potential damage. I’m all for it.

  • sc June 18, 2015 (7:52 pm)


    If you can please find out status of child,

    who is most definitely blameless

  • Ray West June 19, 2015 (9:36 am)

    Amazing how much damage and chaos one irresponsible person can create. This could have turned deadly. So glad no one was injured. What a mess traffic was, and I was coming home from work in the opposite direction hours after and traffic was still affected.

  • LH June 20, 2015 (8:12 am)

    Everyone who is trying to say its the mothers fault, can you please stop. She was at work when this happened. The little girl was uninjured in the crash (thankgod) and she is with her mom.

    I am a friend of the mother and she is going through a hard time at the moment so if people could refrain from blaming her it would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you

  • Robert June 22, 2015 (7:56 am)

    quit all the whining, just adopt sweden’s dui laws ,they do not mess around.they take the car,and if necessary the house to when injuries are caused..

  • MS June 30, 2015 (12:15 am)

    I’ll chime in here. I’m a man with some experience when it comes to DUI’s. I’ve had a couple over my 30 years with a license to drive. Ok-prohibition didn’t work because we all (most) love our booze. In that vein, our society is practically structured around protecting the right to drink. A habitual offender is a danger. No laws on the planet will prevent or keep this person from reoffending. Incarceration doesn’t work because they get out and the first thing they want is a drink. It is truly a disease that renders the person inept to help themself. What’s the answer? I believe it isn’t spending money on their rehab. I think it is a punishment so scary they wouldn’t dream of offending again. Screw the rehab. They need the fear. The most painfully afflicted and repeat offenders need something we haven’t quite figured out yet. Jail time-nope. Rehab-nope. How do we protect ourselves as a community against these people? I don’t have the answer. If someone says both jail and rehab with some “good” help is the answer I beg a differ. I’ll offer this. Severe punishment. They are basically a loaded weapon. No pun intended. But remember where I started, prohibition or the like solves nothing. What “is” the solution? Severe? Take their license? Nothing will prevent a free person from pulling the trigger. Of course I mean…starting their car.

Sorry, comment time is over.

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