Washington State Legislature looking to ramp up DUI laws…Again

A year after some sweeping changes to Washington State DUI laws were tabled due to budget concerns. The 2014 Washington State Legislature is at again to change the existing DUI laws and once again make Washington State the poster child for having the Toughest DUI laws in the nation. Behind these new proposals should come as no surprise to anyone. Its Rep. Goodman from Kirkland, WA. A man who has seemed to make it his sole platform and mission to zero in on DUI laws and make them as strict as much as possible.

Rep. Goodman is planning to hold hearings Feb. 4 on a variety of minor bills not including the recent proposal to make a DUI a felony if there are three or more. These proposals aim to increase post-conviction supervision of repeat DUI offenders, expand communication efforts about alcohol-sensing and ignition-interlock requirements, and to allow police to conduct blood-alcohol tests without a warrant if drivers consent even though the US Supreme Court says you can.

Additionally he is also “willing” to hold a hearing on a bill establishing random sobriety checkpoints. I put that in quotes because nothing formal has been proposed and not surprising this stupid idea hasn’t gotten any traction among the State legislators. You see random sobriety checkpoints are currently unconstitutional in our State and as difficult as it may seem for Rep Goodman it’s kind of a big deal to try and change that.

Now this is nothing new. Like I said last year there were some proposed bills that would have made sweeping changes to the DUI laws. Unfortunately both the Governor and the State legislators eyes were bigger than their stomach so to speak. Because the cost of implementing those changes would have been astronomical. And since the State budget again seems to be at a shortfall I don’t see how the legislators are going to find the money to make these changes.

For example let’s say Goodman’s bill passes. Someone in 2015 has multiple DUI arrests and convictions in Seattle. Under the new law they would then be charged with a felony DUI. But it is not that simple. There needs to be money to pay for the increased supervision, money to pay for the increased prison time, and money to pay for the change in court jurisdiction including the Judges, prosecutors, public defenders, jail guards, bailiffs, and court clerks just to name a few. Since Washington State doesn’t just have tens of millions and millions of dollars sitting around it kind of makes it difficult to implement these changes. But who knows. This could be the year.

The Seattle Times covered this story pretty well and at the end of the article there was a great quote from a State legislator and former lobbyist for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. He said the issue was only being raised “so politicians can look good being quote ‘tough on crime,’ knowing there isn’t money to do it.” This is exactly what they are doing. It’s politics 101. Find an issue that resonates with the public. Fires them up. A hot button issue. Campaign either for or against depending on the majority support. That’s how you win elections people and these politicians are no dummies!

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI Lawyer in the Seattle Bellevue area of Western WA. He has been named a Rising Star by the Seattle Met Magazine for DUI Defense, an honor only 2.5% of all Attorneys receive. Additionally he is rated as a Superb 10/10 by Avvo.com, a legal based rating system for lawyers.