In a move to curtail DUI-related accidents, the Washington state Legislature has voted unanimously to pass a new bill seeking to impose stiffer penalties for drivers with prior offenses. The new legislation will now wait for the approval of the governor.
The new bill will require drivers to have an ignition interlock system installed within five days after being charged with their second DUI-related offense. In addition, the driver's alcohol level will also be monitored daily under the state's pilot program. The new measures came on the heels of a Seattle accident that resulted in injuries to a mother and her 10-day-old son, and the death of the woman's parents, after an alleged drunk driver collided with them as they were crossing the street.
The bill that passed was not as strong as the original version. The previously proposed measure had a provision that would have required habitual offenders to serve obligatory prison time. Lawmakers intend to enact even tougher DUI laws next year.
While the new bill takes serious measures to curb repeat felony DUI cases, and hold negligent drivers accountable, it could still be a cause of concern for Seattle and King County motorists. The new measures could present problems if enforced punitively or in an over-zealous way. Drivers, even if reformed, may be unceremoniously charged because of their previous offenses. In that case, a driver might be forced to shell out hundreds of dollars just to install an ignition interlock device. Even worse, drivers could be subjected to unnecessary reproach from their community, causing potential professional and personal problems.
While it is imperative to keep roads safe, it is also important to respect civil rights. Fortunately, one of the basic rights of a person facing charges is to be legally represented. A qualified legal representative may greatly help to analyze the veracity of charges as well as the evidence, in hopes of clearing the reputation and record of the accused.
Source: Oregon Live "Washington state Legislature votes unanimously to approve new DUI rules," June 27, 2013.