State lawmakers targeting impaired drivers with tougher DUI bill

OLYMPIA -- A bipartisan group of state lawmakers is pushing for tougher DUI laws.

The House Committee on Public Safety held a public hearing Friday morning on pending legislation concerning impaired drivers.

Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, who has sponsored tougher DUI legislation in the past, says House Bill 1276 will strengthen existing laws already on the books.

Several sections of the bill focus on the use of ignition interlock devices.

"I think the key for the ignition interlock program is to make sure these devices are in the cars of known drunk drivers, and there are a few gaps that we are filling in this bill," said Goodman.

The bill proposes several changes. including:

-- Requiring the courts to notify the Department of Licensing when a defendant is required to use an ignition interlock device (IID) and notifying officials when restrictions are lifted;

-- Requiring an IID restricted driver, who has agreed not to drive, to sign an affidavit of non-driving, which must be filed with the court;

-- Makes it a traffic infraction for a person to have an open container of marijuana in the main compartment of a vehicle.

At the public hearing, legal experts weighed in and suggested lawmakers rework parts of the legislation.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington is neutral on the ignition interlock device parts of the bill, according to spokesman Doug Honig. However, he pointed out there are concerns about other aspects of the lengthy bill.

The bill is scheduled to be considered at an executive session of the House Committee on Public Safety next Friday.