According to a recent Seattle Times article, Governor Inslee is about to get his way when it comes to toughening up DUI laws here in Washington State. Now for those of you that don’t read this blog that often I’m all for community safety and protecting the residents of Washington State. But what Governor Inslee and the State Legislature is attempting to pass as legislation is in my opinion is excessive and borderline Draconian.
All of this has become very political since the two horrific DUI crashes we have had here in Seattle. Those incidents have basically become a rallying cry for organizations like MADD and other individuals lobbying for tougher DUI laws. It’s eerily similar to what we are seeing with Federal gun legislation and what President Obama and other advocates of gun control are doing.
Here are some of the highlights of HB 2030, and SB5902
After a DUI arrest a mandatory ignition interlock must be placed on any vehicle before it is released from impound.
Anybody arrested for DUI, or Physical Control will get booked into custody
The mandatory penalties for a second offense DUI increase to 6 months in jail
The mandatory penalties for a third offense DUI increase to 1 year in jail
Three or more DUI’s in 10 years is a felony
If you get convicted of a DUI you will be given a special license which would not allow you to purchase or be served alcohol for 10 years
As stated before I understand the need to protect residents of our State. But much of what is being proposed is too excessive. For example when a person is arrested for a DUI. If it is their first offense and generally if they are cooperative with the arresting officer they are released on their own recognizance instead of being booked into custody. In fact I have had cases before where my clients were taken home by the arresting officer instead of going to jail.
Aside of the cost of housing someone in custody most DUI’s in King County are not even filed for 3-6 months. So what would be the point of booking someone in jail if the King County Prosecutors Office doesn’t feel it is important to even file the DUI charge right away. If they are now proposing this change because of community safety concerns, they why is the charge not filed right away. Besides there are measures in place to prevent someone from getting behind the wheel of their car after a DUI arrest with the passage of Haileys law (a 12 hour mandatory impound for all vehicles after a DUI arrest).
Secondly the proposal that anybody arrested for a DUI needs to get an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle before it would get released. Again why does someone who has never been in trouble before, who possibly had a breath test under the legal limit be required to get an ignition interlock device when their DUI case is not even going to get filed for a few months. I’m willing to be there were some lobbyists for these ignition interlock companies putting their two cents in on this one and offering some sweet backdoor deals to these legislators.
To read the comments from the Seattle Times article is just plain scary. A bunch of people who hide behind monikers ranting and raving about DUI cases. Yes drinking and driving is a problem. Yes these two cases recently in King County were horrific tragedies. But some of these comments say a person that gets a first DUI should spend a year in jail, or I saw someone say they should pay a $30000 fine. Or someone wrote a no alcohol for life sentence. The scary thing about these comments are these nut jobs are residents of Washington State and potentially could be a juror on a DUI case. Frightening thought. How in the heck is anyone going to get a fair trial on a DUI case now in King County. It is not going to happen, and that is worrisome.
For those people. Let me just leave you with this. 99% of my clients have never been in trouble before. They are Mothers, Fathers, Brothers, and Sisters. They are professionals. They are Doctors, Lawyers, Athletes, employees at Microsoft and Boeing. In other words they are good hard working professionals who have never been in trouble before and they will never get in trouble again. They made a simple mistake, nobody was injured, there was no car accident, this was not the crime of the century. Yet under this new legislation they will receive more severe penalties than a person charged with a felony. What is wrong with that picture?