Inslee, state lawmakers unveil new bill to toughen DUI laws

OLYMPIA -- Gov. Jay Inslee and legislators announced a new bill Tuesday to increase penalties for DUI convictions, including mandatory arrest on a first offense and a choice of six months in jail or enrollment in a new sobriety program on a second offense.

Offenders will be sentenced to one year in jail on their third offense.

“There are no more free passes for those who choose to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” Inslee said at a news conference with a bipartisan group of state lawmakers as they unveiled the new DUI bill, HB 2030/SB5912).

The governor’s office said the program, implemented in South Dakota, provides stricter accountability and substance abuse support that has proven to reduce recidivism.

Additional provisions in the bill include installation of ignition interlock devices on all DUI defendant vehicles, authorization to establish DUI courts in local municipalities, and increased funding for the state’s Target Zero program.

“Every accident and every death we see involving a DUI could have been prevented,” said Inslee. “People who choose to get behind the wheel must know that we are done giving them a free pass.”

The bill is supported by legislators in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle.

“As someone pointed out this past week at our joint committee work session, there is no crime more preventable than DUI,” said state Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee. “This new Senate bill has a lot of things in it that should help prevent DUIs, including some approaches our committee brought to the table after talking with justice officials in other states.”

“We’ve worked hard to strengthen our DUI laws and with some success, reducing alcohol-related deaths and injuries on the roadways by more than 35%. The recent tragedies remind us that we have more work to do, so we need even tougher and smarter laws, especially to stop repeat offenders,” said state Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, who heads the state’s Impaired Driving Work Group.

“Victims of drunk drivers don’t get a second chance at life, so it’s time we stop giving the drunk drivers a second chance. Governor Inslee has proposed strong new measures and although we only have a short time before the session ends, I know we have the political will to pass these important reforms into law,” Goodman said.

HB 2030 and SB 5912 are scheduled for a public hearing on Thursday in a joint session of the House and Senate.