State Lawmakers Say It’s Time To Jail Repeat Impaired Drivers
745 traffic fatalities were reported in Washington state in 2022 many killed by impaired drivers.
A new bill in the Washington State Legislature could result in more people being put in jail for Driving While Impaired. 4th District Sen. Mike Padden is sponsoring Senate Bill 5032 which would expand the time period for reviewing prior convictions of impaired driving to 15 years, from the 10 years now in state law, when determining whether a new offense of impaired driving is charged as a felony. The bill has been approved by the Senate Law and Justice Committee.
Under the bill repeat offenders would face a felony charge
Padden says the proposal would increase the penalty from a gross misdemeanor to a felony offense for any person who has three or more prior DUI offenses within the 15 year period.
Sound like a good idea? Padden agrees but other lawmakers aren't as enthusiastic failing to pass the bill over the last three legislative sessions.
He's determined to get the bill passed this session. The bill now goes to the Senate Transportation Committee for further consideration.
Repeat DUI offenders commit a majority of vehicular homicides
At the bill’s public hearing earlier this week, Padden told members of the Law and Justice Committee that repeat impaired-driving offenders commit most of the vehicular homicides and vehicular assaults in Washington state.
“This is a measure to try to prevent those horrible, senseless crimes,” Padden testified. “Four years ago, I was out driving here in Olympia on a weekend on I-5. Right at the Pacific Avenue exit I saw the remains of a crash in which a 17-year-old Hispanic woman from the Tri-Cities was killed. They were changing a tire on the shoulder and a repeat drunk driver crashed into them on the shoulder.”
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