OLYMPIA - A bi-partisan bill making its way through the legislature in an effort to toughen DUI laws will be heard today, Thursday, in a special joint session of the House and Senate.
Sen. Jim Honeyford says the bill is still a work in progress, but notes something should be done.
"Recent events indicate that current DUI laws are far too lenient for multiple offenders and that stronger penalties are needed and hopefully the increased penalties will be a deterrent," said Honeyford (R-Sunnyside).
"I think it is an attempt to address a growing percentage of repeat DUI offenses," adds Rep. Bruce Chandler (R-Granger). "The idea is there would be escalating consequences. The problem with so many DUI cases is they tend to have catastrophic type of accidents."
Rep. Dave Taylor also represents the Lower Valley in Olympia, and he says the jury is still out on the proposed legislation now making its way through Olympia.
"I do question the timing of the bill," says Taylor (R-Moxee). "With two weeks left in the 2013 legislative session, why is this bill only now being introduced? "
Both lawmakers said because of the approaching end of the legislative session there hasn't been opportunity to thoroughly review HB 2030 and SB 5912.
Both bills are backed by Gov. Jay Inslee, and - if approved - would require the following:
- A mandatory arrest on a first offense and a choice of six months of jail time or enrollment in a new Sobriety 24/7 program for the second offense.
- Offenders will be sentenced to one year in jail on their third offense.
- Additional provisions 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.
"There are no more free passes for those who choose to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol," Inslee said in touting the legislation. "Every accident and every death we see involving a DUI could have been prevented."