Earlier this year several bills were introduced to the Senate that would make DUI laws in the Washington tougher. The News Tribune reports that one bill has died while the other is making progress.
House Bill 2506 proposed to raise a DUI felony conviction from a class C felony to a class B felony. Felony crimes in Washington range in seriousness based on their class. A class A felony is the most serious and A class C felony is the lightest. A class C felony can result in up to 5 years of jail time, a fine of up to $10,000 or combination of both. A class B felony can result in 10 years of jail time and $20,000 in fines. But the main concern for lawmakers is that anyone convicted of a class B felony can be ordered into community custody or other types of substance abuse treatment after their sentence has been complete.
Some believe that this is a great way to make sure that people convicted of DUI are treated for their chemical dependency in addition to their criminal sentencing. Opponents of the bill, however, feel that many felony DUI offenses do not warrant that serious of a charge and could unfairly targeted medical marijuana users who rely on the drug to treat their medical aliments.
Fortunately for some, Bill 2506 failed to move out at the House of committee after a public hearing this month. A second DUI bill, Senate Bill 6090, did pass however. This bill will change Washington law so that anyone with 2 or more prior DUI convictions on their record in the past 10 years will be charged with felony DUI for a subsequent conviction. Currently, a person must have three or more convictions before they face felony charges.
All of these bills show that lawmakers are not content with the current DUI laws in the state. It seems likely that Bill 6090 will eventually become a law. In addition to these two bills, there are many other proposals, such as instituting sobriety checkpoints, that the state is currently considering. These new laws make it all the more important to contact an attorney as soon as possible if you are arrested for any type of DUI related offense.