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Governor approves tougher DUI penalties

Post by Katie Schmidt on May 10, 2011 at 5:39 pm with 8 Comments »
May 10, 2011 5:33 pm

Washington is about to get tougher DUI laws.

Under a bill Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law Tuesday, the state will rely heavily on ignition interlock devices, which detect the alcohol in a driver’s breath, to crack down on drinking and driving.

“With this legislation we’ll get enough of these ignition interlock devices into the universe of drunk drivers’ cars to show that it is really one of the best options to reduce the carnage on our highways,” said Rep. Roger Goodman, the primary sponsor of House Bill 1789.

The bill, most of which goes into effect in September, requires more offenders to install ignition interlock devices in an effort to address the problem of pleading down. That happens when prosecutors agree to a reduced sentence for people who have been arrested for a DUI in order to avoid the expense of going to court.

In some cases, that can lead to a conviction for negligent driving, which doesn’t necessarily require that drivers install interlock devices.

Under the new law, all drivers who are convicted of either negligent driving in the first degree or reckless driving and have a DUI conviction within the last seven years will have to get a device.

It also increases a fee that people who are arrested for drunk driving have to pay and dedicates some of the money to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission to pay for programs to prevent driving under the influence of alcohol.

Commission program manager Shelly Baldwin said she was glad that more money would go to prevention programs and ignition interlock devices in the state.

“This places us in the forefront of getting ignition interlock devices on as many vehicles as possible,” she said.

According to a February study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, re-arrest rates for drunk drivers decreased by about 67 percent for people who had interlock devices compared to people who just had their licenses suspended.

Leave a comment Comments → 8
  1. Learn what to do if you get pulled over for a DUI check. http://bit.ly/fxgNtA

  2. Expert,
    Do you have any expert advice on how to cope with the death of a loved one killed by a careless drunk driver?

  3. Whatever1214 says:

    Amy…. Expert Beaconis a spammer trying to direct traffic to his website. Ignore him and flag his comment as spam.

  4. Alison7613 says:

    Darn defense attorneys. Agreed. Remove that comment as spam. I am a survivor of a DUI driver. Twenty years later, I still hurt from the injuries.

  5. My wife Carol and I were at the bill signing today. Governor Gregoire insisted that Carol stand by her side as she signed the bill. She also told Carol to hold up a picture of our daughter Sheena who was killed by a drunk driver in February 2010. It is the best possible thing she could have done at that time. With all the people in that room, she chose Carol, the Mommy to stand by her side. We were deeply touched as she handed Carol the original pen and held our hands for a few seconds. A very touching moment. Thank you Governor for your thoughtful act of kindness.

  6. anitalatch says:

    This bill is a good start for strengthening our DUI laws. I would like to see a legislator who is willing to sponsor a law which will require all new cars sold in Washington to have interlock devices. No one should drive drunk and we shouldn’t think of the devices as punishment.

  7. The trouble,as I see it,is the penalty for DUI is much too leinent and there are too many Judges unwilling to give a harsh sentence to the offenders.If the Legislators were really serious about stopping drunk driving they would introduce and pass penaltys on the drunk drivers that had real meaning to the word Penalty!A good start would be to take all leeway on sentencing away from the Judges and make the sentence manditory.For instance,the first conviction on DUI would be 1 year in prison or 365 days,whichever comes first.Conviction on the second DUI would be 5 years in prison.The third convictions sentence would be,life in prison with no chance of parole!Maybe some of the people think these sentences would be too harsh,but just ask someone who has lost a loved one to one of these killers and see what their thoughts are.Better still, wait until one of your loved ones is maimed or killed by a drunk driver,then ask yourself what you are feeling.As for the proposed interlock device,how is that going to work on the car that the drunk will borrow from a friend,relative or neighbor?Maybe they will just purchase another vehicle.I have a feeling that already there is a plan for circumventing the new laws.Look for the plan to show up in the near future.

  8. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    Olympia can’t write a bill that a good lawyer can’t beat. Happens everyday for those that can afford such an attorney.

    Only the dummies and losers go to jail.

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