People commit repeat DUI offenses for many reasons. A recent article looks at some of these reasons and why it is so difficult for lawmakers to create penalties that completely discourage repeat DUI offenders. When a person is convicted of driving under the influence in Washington, it stays on their record for seven years. If at any time during that seven year period the offender is again arrested for suspicion of DUI or a DUI related offense, police will see the prior conviction and charge them with a repeat DUI offense.
Lawmakers feel that repeat offenders are more dangerous because they are more likely to cause an accident. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) estimate that about one third of all people arrested for DUI are repeat offenders. For this reason, the more prior convictions the offender has on their record, the more penalties they will face. The purpose of this practice is to discourage people convicted of DUI from ever drinking and driving again.
One of the most common reasons people have for repeat DUI offenses is addiction. A person who is addicted to alcohol or any type of substance is more likely to make bad choices and may be physically unable to go without consuming the substance they are addicted to. If this is the case for all repeat offenders, lawmaker should make drug or alcohol counseling and rehabilitation a mandatory sentence for all DUI offenders. However, this is not always the case. Other common causes for repeat offenders have been found to be the driver's belief that they are not over the legal limit, are not actually impaired or that they will not be caught. Another commonly reported reason for repeat DUI offenses is that the offender felt that they had no other way of getting home and needed to drive their vehicle.
Until all the reasons for driving under the influence are addressed, lawmakers will likely continue to change DUI penalties in order to discourage the largest number of repeat offenders.