Increased DUI Laws in Washington Proposed for Repeat Offenders

DUI crash attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm highlight the bold new laws being proposed in the Washington State House of Representatives. The laws focus primarily on second-and third-time offenders in attempts to remedy the main reason behind multiple convictions – compulsive alcohol consumption.

In Washington in 2012, nearly 40,000 people were arrested for driving while impaired, and one year earlier there were more than 6,000 alcohol-related accidents. One third of all fatal crashes in the state involved drivers who had consumed alcohol. The new bill, HB 2030, spearheaded by State Representative Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland), would set a mandatory minimum jail sentence for second-and third-offenders, among other new provisions.

Second offenders would be able to avoid jail time if they agree to enroll in a sobriety program and wear a bracelet that would immediately alert authorities if the person consumes any alcohol. Third convictions would make a one year jail sentence mandatory and require that person to receive a specialized identification card that would prohibit them from being sold or served any alcohol for ten years.

It may also require ignition interlocks – devices that require drivers to blow into a breathalyzer before their cars can start – to be installed during the 12-hour period DUI offenders’ cars must be impounded. This measure, however, has been refuted, citing potential rights violations, as the installing would occur after an arrest but before an actual conviction.

This new bill was written with the intent to rehabilitate those who pose the highest risk to drivers – repeat DUI-offenders who are unable to stop drinking. For a court to order someone to not drink alcohol, and actively monitor their consumption, is a bold proposition. Whether or not Washington courts are ready to implement such a measure, however, is another question.

Other lawmakers are considering new technology that would help supervise those offenders who are willing to get sober. Such technology would include the aforementioned bracelet that could detect alcohol through the skin. These costs associated with actually implementing and maintaining such provisions, however, are large and expenses would be the responsibility of the offenders, not the state.

The emphasis on rehabilitation instead of imprisonment is a noble one. History has proved that those who are imprisoned for repeat-DUI offenses without additional treatment only continue to engage in the same addiction-driven behavior after their release. It is becoming increasingly evident that the answer lies not in increasing laws and regulations, but in changing the attitude of how these crimes are handled.

Another major issue lawmakers in Washington are trying to grapple with is the new stipulations involving ingesting marijuana before driving. Since the state recently legalized the recreational use of marijuana, questions concerning the legal limit of driving impairment have been raised and recently answered.

As of December 2012, Washington has a new law specifically regulating the amount of THC a driver must have in their system to be arrested for a DUI. It is now illegal for anyone to operate a vehicle with a blood content of .05 nanograms of THC or higher. This can be determined by a blood draw and analysis, and carries the same consequences of an alcohol DUI. This new law has proven controversial but necessary. A similar law was recently passed through the Colorado House, the second state to legalize recreational marijuana use.

Auto accident attorneys urge all Americans to stay up-to-date on your state’s DUI laws and provisions, which are in constant flux throughout the country. If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a crash caused by an impaired or distracted driver, you have important legal rights, and may be entitled to significant compensation for past and future medical bills, lost wages, or emotional distress.

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