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Published on Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Getting tough with DUI continues to be priority during special session

The Governor and legislators had been working to pass tough new penalties for drunk drivers at the end of the regular session, but they ran out of time. It is now one of the issues the Governor named as a priority for the special session. There have been multiple drafts of the bill being considered. On Tuesday, the Senate Law & Justice Committee took executive action to pass a version of the proposal. The bill, SSB 5912, now moves on to the Ways & Means Committee for consideration of the fiscal impacts. The House has also been considering a version of the proposal, but they have not taken action.

While cities are supportive of efforts to reduce drunk driving, we have been very concerned about the fiscal impact of the proposals under consideration. There will be new costs for local jurisdictions from the requirements for increased jail time and prosecutor resources. There are also unknowns about the impact of new initiatives like the 24/7 sobriety monitoring which is intended to use available technology that requires offenders to be tested randomly throughout the day for alcohol in their system. The Governor and legislators have committed to providing funding for these new costs, but we need to be clear that the funding is adequate.

The major components of the proposals that are currently under consideration are:

  • Mandatory arrest and booking into jail for an offender with a prior offense in the last 10 years.
  • Repeat offenders will have a pre-trial release condition to have an ignition interlock device installed in their car.
  • Adding an additional 10 days on to the mandatory minimum jail sentences for 2nd and 3rd time offenders.
  • Making the 4th offense a felony (currently it is the fifth offense).
  • Establishing a pilot 24/7 sobriety monitoring program in 3 counties and 2 cities to be administered by WASPC and expanded to other communities over time.
  • In addition to other penalties the court may also order an alcohol assessment and if warranted treatment.
  • Adding a $100 penalty for DUI that will go to a state fund for traffic safety programs.

As you are talking with your legislators, please remind them that they cannot pass on an unfunded mandate to cities. The state must provide adequate funding for any new DUI legislation. Without funding, cities won’t be able to adequately implement these changes, or will do so at the expense of other essential services. We all want this to succeed and we need to be working in cooperation for that to happen.

If you have any questions, please contact Candice Bock or Brittany Sill.

Categories: Law & justice