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Published on Friday, January 23, 2015

Public safety legislation updates

It is only week two of the 2015 legislative session but dozens of public safety bills have been introduced and are making their way through the legislative process. Here are a few of the bills AWC is paying attention to this legislative session:

Concerning unmanned aircraft, Rep. Jeff Morris (D-Mt.Vernon)

HB 1093 had a public hearing in the House Technology & Economic Development Committee On January 21. It is scheduled for executive session some time next week.

An unmanned aircraft system (UAS), more commonly known as a “drone”, is an aircraft without a human pilot on board. Drones can be used simply for pleasure, or for more serious grounds such as forest fire monitoring, weather research or by the United State military. Currently, there are very few rules and regulations governing the use of drones. In response to their growing popularity the US Congress enacted the Federal Aviation Administration Mobilization and Reform Act (FMRA) in 2012 directing the Federal Aviation Administration to establish a comprehensive plan for fully integrating drones into the national airspace by September 30, 2015. While some Washington State municipalities have passed their own drone legislation, Washington State currently has none.

HB 1093 prohibits the operation of a drone with an active sensory device (i.e. a surveillance device) except under certain circumstances. Specifically it:

  • Prohibits operation of an unmanned aircraft in Washington airspace if the unmanned aircraft has an active sensory device onboard that collects personal information about any individual without the individual's consent, unless certain conditions are met.
  • Establishes a criminal penalty for violation with intent to capture any type of personal information for an illicit purpose.
  • Establishes a private right of action for an individual whose reasonable expectation of privacy is violated by the use of an unmanned aircraft equipped with an active sensing device.
  • States that it shall not be construed as authorizing the use of, prohibiting the use of, or regulating in any manner the use of an unmanned aircraft by a public agency.
  • Makes a legislative finding that the reasonable expectation of privacy of a person is violated under certain circumstances when the person whose image has been captured is on private property.

Concerning impaired driving, Rep. Klippert (R-Kennewick)

HB 1276 has a public hearing in the House Public Safety Committee today, January 23. It is scheduled for executive session January 30.

Each year a group of lawmakers revisits DUI legislation to respond to changing policy. This year it is in the form of HB 1276. Among its many provisions, HB 1276 stipulates the following:

  • Requires the courts to notify the Department of Licensing (DOL) in instances where a defendant is required to use an ignition interlock device (IID) and in instances where such restrictions are lifted.
  • Requires an IID restricted driver, who has agreed not to drive, to sign an affidavit of non-driving which must be filed with the court.
  • Eliminates the statutory provisions that prohibited an IID license applicant from appealing a license revocation.
  • Requires IIDs to have technology capable of providing global positioning system coordinates.
  • Removes statutory references to the testing of a person's breath for purposes of determining the presence of drugs under the Implied Consent statute.
  • Clarifies the statutes that prohibit law enforcement officers from testing a person's blood suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) unless it is pursuant to a search warrant, a valid waiver of the warrant requirement, when exigent circumstances exist, or under any other authority of law.
  • Makes it a traffic infraction for a person to have an open container of marijuana in the main compartment of a vehicle.
  • Amends the definition of a "prior offense" in the Impaired Driving statute to include DUI-related offenses as they relate to being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Provides that Driving Under the Influence (DUI)-related sentence enhancements are mandatory, must be served in total confinement, must run consecutively to other sentencing provisions, and are not eligible for earned release time.
  • Authorizes the DOL to furnish an abstract of an individual's driving record to an individual's named attorney of record.
  • Provides that if any person to whom the right of control for the disposition of human remains is vested has been arrested for Vehicular Homicide in connection with the decedent's death, the right of control is relinquished.
  • Requires that any sentence for a felony DUI/Physical Control (PC) offense must be served consecutively to any sentence imposed for Circumventing an IID or Operating a Motor Vehicle without a required IID.

Making a fourth driving under the influence offense a felony, Sen. Padden (R-Spokane Valley)

SB 5105 had a public hearing in the Senate Law & Justice Committee January 22. It is currently not scheduled for executive session.

The 2013 Legislature created an Impaired Driving Workgroup that worked throughout 2013 to develop ideas and strategies to address vehicle deaths and serious injuries related to DUI offenses. One of the strategies that came out of the committee was to lower the minimum number of previous impaired driving convictions that must be counted before constituting and being punishable as a felony. Currently if a person has four or more prior DUI offenses within ten years they can be charged with a class C felony ranked at level V on the sentencing grid.

SB 5105 amends this provision and provides that a person may be charged with a felony DUI if the person’s criminal record includes three or more, instead of four or more, prior offenses within the applicable period (ten years).

Addressing the scope of state fire service mobilization and ensuring compliance with existing state and federal disaster response policies, Sen. Pearson (R-Monroe) & Rep. Goodman (D-Redmond)

SB 5181/HB 1389: SB 5181 had a public hearing in the Senate Government Operations & State Security Committee January 22. Its companion bill, HB 1389 was heard and passed out of the House Public Safety Committee earlier this week.

Currently the state Fire Service Resource Mobilization Plan can be implemented to provide resources from around the state when a wild land fire exceeds firefighting capacity of local jurisdictions. Non-host fire protection authorities are eligible for reimbursement of expenses when mobilized under the plan.

Following the Oso landslide a commission was formed to review the landslide and the collective response to it. Among the commission’s recommendations was that the Legislature clarify the definition of all-hazards mobilization under the plan. SB 5181 and HB 1389 do that by authorizing mobilization of risk resources regularly provided by fire departments, fire districts and regional fire protection authorities, including but not limited to wild land fires, landslides, earthquakes, floods, and contagious diseases. Non-host fire protection authorities are eligible for reimbursement of expenses if a mobilization meets requirements identified in the mobilization plan.

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