An article in The Seattle Times talk about a group of lawmakers and DUI industry professionals who got together to discuss ways that Washington State can crackdown on DUI offenders. The group called themselves The 2013 Washington Impaired Driving Work Group and was made up of the following:
- Police officers
- State-agency officials
- Victims' families
- Treatment providers
- Ignition-interlock manufacturers and experts
Together they came up with 11 ideas for reducing DUI in Washington. Of the 11, 3 ideas got the largest support from members. They included:
- Increasing penalties for DUI suspects that refuse to take a chemical test – As of now, a driver who refuses a breath or blood test in Washington will be subject to one year of license suspension. The group proposes that this penalty be increased in order to discourage DUI suspects from refusing.
- Increasing the minimum prison sentence and fine for repeat DUI offenders – Increasing the sentences for drivers who have been previously convicted of DUI iin the past seven years may cut back on the number of repeat DUI offenders.
- Making felony DUI charges occur sooner than after the 5th offense – Right now Washington is the only state that waits to charge a DUI offender with a felony until their fifth offense. Most states charge felony DUI after a third or fourth offense.
Instituting sobriety checkpoints in the state was a close number four which surprised some as currently these checkpoints are unconstitutional in Washington. Also surprising was the lack of support for increasing the use of ignition interlock devices (IIDs); small devices often touted by groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) as being the best way to stop drunk driving.
For now these ideas are simply that, ideas. The group filed a report with Washington legislature earlier this month which will be reviewed. It will likely be several months before we find out if any of these ideas will be put to vote as law. If so, this could mean big things for DUI laws in Seattle.