Washington State lawmakers consider DUI bills

Abstract: Two bills before Washington state lawmakers propose changes that will affect repeat DUI convictions.

Spring is here in Washington state and this means a new legislative session for lawmakers. Two proposed bills could have an impact on those who are convicted of a repeat drunk driving charge. One addresses the use of interlocks while the other seeks to issue tougher penalties.

Interlock bill

According to the Washington State Legislature, current law requires an interlock to be installed on any and all vehicles that a person drives if the person has been charged with a repeat DUI offense. However, in some cases, the person may not own a vehicle. The interlock bill proposes that courts have the option to accept a sworn statement from the person, agreeing to comply with an alcohol monitoring program in place of the interlock. The bill also gives a person the ability to swear before the court that he or she will not drive while the interlock restriction is in place.

The Seattle Times reports that about 50 percent of people who are charged with repeat DUI's in Seattle, already sign a non-driving agreement form with the municipal court. If passed, the bill will require that the interlock restriction be attached to the person's driving record and license, making it possible for law enforcement to determine if the person is violating the terms of the agreement. Additionally, the person would be required to wear an alcohol-detection device at all times. Critics of the bill, however, are concerned over the ability to enforce the agreements and the alcohol monitoring.

Tougher penalties

In a separate bill, which has already passed the state senate, supporters are asking to increase the charge for a fourth DUI to a felony status. King 5 News states that this is not the first time lawmakers have been asked to make the change. The proposal was first suggested two years ago. Last year, a bill was introduced but lawmakers were worried over the additional incarceration costs.

According to The Spokesman Review, anyone convicted of a fourth drunk driving offense within a 10-year period could be sentenced to serve between 13 and 17 months behind bars. Currently a fourth conviction for a DUI is considered a gross misdemeanor. It is unknown whether there is any opposition to the bill.

Seeking legal help

As laws regarding driving under the influence change, it is important for people to seek out legal assistance. It may be possible for an attorney to negotiate for a lesser charge in return for participation in a treatment program. These programs have proven beneficial in helping people overcome alcohol dependency and rebuilding their lives. An attorney may also be able to succeed in having the DUI charge dropped, especially in cases where the evidence may be questionable.

Keywords: Washington State lawmakers, drunk driving charge, Interlock bill, Washington State Legislature, fourth DUI, Spokesman Review