In an editorial piece, the editors of the Seattle Times urge Washington state lawmakers to proceed with caution before approving new DUI laws.
This week, the proposed bill that would stiffen DUI penalties, especially for repeat DUI offenders, is expected to be heard in a special legislative session. With the recent series of deadly car crashes, lawmakers acted quickly to introduce the bill.
However, critics of the bill and even those who support overhauling Washington's DUI laws have blanched at the estimated $20 million that the bill would cost. For example, increasing jail sentences and making a fourth DUI a felony could lead to flooded jail/prison systems.
The DUI proposals would have to compete for limited resources against other worthwhile objectives being considered in the special legislative session such as funding for education.
Given that one-fifth of DUI-related cases from 1998 to 2012 involved a repeat DUI offender, editors at the Seattle Times admit that some change in DUI laws is necessary. However, they believe that lawmakers should take their time in formulating a response that targets repeat offenders and recognizes that alcoholism is a disease. In addition, the editors argue that the bill should identify a revenue source to pay for the bill such as a tax on liquor.
The proposed DUI bill has already experienced many changes from when it was first introduced. In this special session, we can expect many more changes as well. For example, some provisions in the bill such as requiring ignition interlock devices in vehicles pretrial may be carved out.
With arguments both supporting passing the new bill immediately and delaying and deliberating on the law, it's too hard to venture a guess on whether the bill will be passed and how it will look if passed.
The attorneys at Wolff Criminal Defense have stayed on top of the proposed changes to Washington DUI laws. Regardless of what changes are made, our attorneys promise to defend the rights of DUI defendants and ensure that you have an advocate on your side. You can contact us at 425-284-2000 to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.