Last week, the news was full of reports detailing the Washington State Governor Jay Inslee’s aggressive stance towards enhancing his state’s DWI laws. The Seattle Times reported that bills introduced both in the Washington State House of Representatives and the Senate would dramatically change Washington State’s DWI laws. The original legislation sought to require police officers to arrest allegedly drunk drivers and prosecutors to charge them in a quicker manner.
The original legislation also would have mandated that vehicles be fitted with interlocking devices before being returned to those with DWI charges, and would have imposed a six month mandatory minimum jail sentence for second offenses, and a one-year mandatory minimum for third offenses. Finally, the original legislation would have allowed for those convicted on their second or third DWI offense to forgo the jail time only by submitting to a rigid sobriety program and monitoring by a transdermal device that would detect alcohol consumption, and would have banned third-time DWI convicts from purchasing alcohol for ten years.
This week, The Seattle Times provides readers with an update to the DWI legislation. The report notes that the original bills were fast-tracked. This means that the bills would have been up for approval before the end of the regular legislative session next Sunday. Now lawmakers believe that a special session extending lawmaking activities is necessary to finalize budget issues and address legislation. The special session would give lawmakers additional time to consider the harsh penalties proposed in the DWI legislation, and to make any necessary amendments to those proposals.
The additional time may be a good thing, as several lawmakers have expressed concerns that rushing this type of legislation is problematic. House Public Safety Committee Chairman Representative Roger Goodman, and Senate Law & Justice Committee Chairman Mike Padden, have both expressed that when the legislation comes up for a vote, it will no longer include the ten-year ban on alcohol for repeat DWI convicts. In fact, after law enforcement agencies and other local government agencies expressed concerns about the expense of the original legislation, and the difficulty of putting it into place, Representative Goodman crafted amended legislation. His version of the bill would omit the ten-year alcohol ban and the sobriety program, as well as the expedited ignition-interlock program. Instead, the amended legislation would mandate that vehicles be fitted with interlock systems within ten days of arrest, but only for repeat DWI offenders. Senator Padden made his own changes to the legislation that would make a fourth DWI offense a felony in Washington State.
The fate of the proposed DWI law changes is still unknown in Washington State. However, the Washington State Legislature’s struggle with the bill provides a glimpse into the minds of lawmakers in dealing with changing DWI laws. It also shows how rapidly DWI laws can change. It is important for drivers in any state to be aware of governing DWI laws. If you have been charged with violating DWI laws, an experienced attorney can help you understand the charges against you and may represent you in court. The attorneys at Nave DWI Defense Attorneys have years of DWI law experience on their side. If you have been charged with a DWI in New York State, call Nave DWI Defense Attorneys today for a free consultation at 877-418-0075.