Washington State is making news with their newly proposed drunken driving laws. After two fatal drunk driving incidents, citizens urged lawmakers to make Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”) laws more severe. The first incident involved two fatalities and serious injuries to a mother and infant. The second incident involved a driver driving the wrong way on a bridge and resulted in killing the other driver. Both cases involved a driver who had been convicted of prior DUI’s and the fact they were still on the streets sparked outrage in the community. According to an article released by King 5 News in Seattle, WA, the purpose of these new proposed laws are to “send a message” and stop drunk driving.

Washington Governor, Jay Inslee stated “every accident and every death we see involving a DUI could have been prevented,” and “people who choose to get behind the wheel must know that we are done giving them a free pass.” As the laws stand currently, most first time DUI offenders often receive a license suspension of one year, and a day in jail. However, even more manage to plead it down to a lesser charge and are soon after allowed back on the road. Citizens in Washington are concerned, and are demanding immediate changes.

The Proposed Laws

1. First Offense, “police would have to arrest and take the driver into custody,” and an immediate installation of an interlock system in their vehicle.

2. Second offense, “drivers would have to choose between treatment or a mandatory six months in jail,”

3. Third offense, “at least one-year prison sentence,” and would be “issued a new driver’s license that would prevent them from buying alcohol for 10 years.”

Mixed Reviews

DUI laws around the country are constantly changing over the years. According to an article by the Seattle Times, “lawmakers have steadily stiffened penalties for drunken driving over the past 15 years, often through legislation named for the victims of similar incidents.” But many believe they still are not strict enough.

Those opposing the proposal believe that the “governor’s plan” was drawn up too quickly and the proposal to require mandatory arrests and ignition interlocks prior to a conviction could be both “unconstitutional and costly.” In response the governor’s office stated that his “proposal [will be] re-worked and there will be some amendments.” The plan should be resolved and released by the “end of the legislative session.

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