Push in Olympia to strengthen state DUI laws

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by NATALIE SWABY / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on April 11, 2013 at 7:51 PM

Updated Saturday, Dec 21 at 6:11 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. - In less than two weeks time two tragedies happened in the Seattle area that have lawmakers in Olympia talking about DUI laws. 
 
The shock may have faded, but outrage is growing over an accused repeat drunk driver killing a woman in a wrong way crash on SR 520, and a repeat offender allegedly running over an entire family in Seattle, killing the grandparents and critically injuring a mother and baby.
 
The fatal crashes are sparking a new urgency in Olympia to revive House Bill 1482, a tough drunk driving reform bill that was stalled and seemed doomed this legislative session until the recent crashes gave it new life.
 
Bill sponsor, Representative Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland), 45th Legislative District, called an emergency work group this week to rally support for HB 1482, which closes loopholes in current drunk driving laws.
 
Thursday night, a group of lawmakers participated in a closed door meeting in the governor's conference room to discuss possible new provisions.
 
Ideas being considered include making some convicted drunk drivers wear monitoring bracelets that send an alert when they have had alcohol. There is also a push to bring more enforcement to the state's ignition interlock law.
 
"I support three strikes you are out," said Representative Brad Klippert, (R-Kennewick) 8th Legislative District, who wants to make a person's third DUI a felony offense.
 
Some lawmakers said that idea is a very expensive one.
 
"It adds 1,200 more to our jail population at $37,000 a year per inmate," said Senator Adam Kline, (D-Seattle) 37th Legislative District. "We want to put more people in jail for drunk driving, but we have to pay for it and that money is tax money, taxpayers' dollars."
 
The dilema over where to find the needed dollars is apart of the conversation as determined lawmakers move forward.
 
KING 5's Linda Byron also contributed to this report.

 

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