Legislature approves stricter rules for DUI offenders

OLYMPIA — Repeat violators of Washington’s impaired driving law will face stricter penalties and scrutiny under a bill approved Thursday by the Legislature.

The state House voted unanimously to finalize the measure, sending it to the governor’s desk. Among a range of new rules, the plan requires drivers charged with a second impaired driving offense to have an interlock device installed on their vehicles within five days of being charged, and the state would also begin a pilot program that would conduct daily alcohol monitoring on a person convicted twice under the DUI law.

“This bill is tough, with targeted criminal sanctions to hold drunk drivers accountable,” said Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland.

Legislators pressed ahead with changes to the DUI law this year after fatal accidents in the state angered the public and political leaders. In a March accident in Seattle, a suspected drunken driver crashed into a family crossing the street in a residential Seattle neighborhood. That accident critically injured a 10-day-old child and his mother and killed his grandparents.

As part of a final compromise, the measure is scaled back from an original proposal that would have increased mandatory minimum jail time for repeat DUI offenders. Adding that jail time would have been costly. Another idea initially proposed by Gov. Jay Inslee would have prohibited people from purchasing alcohol for 10 years after a third conviction on drunken driving.

Gov. Jay Inslee said the bill didn’t do everything the state needs to do.

“I look forward to continuing our efforts to crack down on those who choose to endanger the lives and livelihoods of others by choosing to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” Inslee said.

Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, agreed with that sentiment. He said he hopes lawmakers will return next year to strengthen DUI laws even more.

“This bill doesn’t go as far as we hoped it would go,” Klippert said. “It doesn’t do everything we hoped it would do, but it takes a great step forward.”

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