Senate panel weighs new felony DUI bill in Washington State

A Senate panel is weighing a measure that would make it a felony charge to drive under the influence when the driver has three prior offenses within 10 years. The Senate Law & Justice heard testimony on Senate Bill 6090 on Monday, and will likely take a vote on it in the coming days.

Under the existing law, a DUI is a felony only if there are four or more prior offenses within 10 years. Last year the idea was originally proposed but eventually was cut due to the estimated cost. However the same work group is at it again and Governor Inslee as well as some other higher ups have put their full weight behind it again.

I’m really torn about how I feel about this. As a Seattle DUI Attorney this is something that will directly affect my practice and my clients. Although 99% of my clients have no criminal history when they get arrested for a DUI in the King County area. So it’s not like the majority of people will feel the full brunt of this change if it were to occur.

However when you look at the difference in penalties from a gross misdemeanor to a felony this proposed change is kind of a big deal. Instead of 90 days in jail a defendant would be facing prison time in addition to all the collateral consequences that comes with a felony conviction.

I suspect if the budget is better this year than we will see this change. Despite the horrendous vehicular homicide and vehicular assault cases 2013 had. They didn’t seem to stop as the year went on. And it seems like every time you watch the news or read the paper another repeat DUI offender has gotten arrested in Seattle.

In fact I saw a tweet from the WSP that there were something like 16 people arrested for DUI in King County following the Seahawks game. Which was more than double what happened the past 2 weeks combined. The proponents of this bill will just continue to point to these numbers and DUI arrests in Seattle to support their position. And unfortunately for the opponents of this bill there is not a lot to say other than pointing out the cost and the increase in prison population for these nonviolent offenders.

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About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI Lawyer in the Seattle Bellevue area of Western Washington. His has been rated a 10/10 Superb Seattle DUI Lawyer by Avvo.com. He was also nominated as a Rising Star by the Seattle Met Magazine in the field of DUI Defense, an honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys receive.

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