DUI accountability reforms signed into law
March 30, 2012 | By Washington House Democrats
Goodman bill to crack down on metal theft also becomes law
OLYMPIA—A new law signed Thursday by Gov. Chris Gregoire enacts sweeping changes to DUI statutes that will increase the accountability of offenders and make it harder for them to repeat their crimes.
“Drunk drivers kill more people than all other criminals combined, and the best way to get them off our roads is to increase the certainty and fear of accountability for their crimes,” said Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland), who sponsored the law signed today (House Bill 2443).
A recent Seattle Times article on Goodman’s argument for tougher DUI laws confirmed that drunk drivers killed 2,042 people in Washington between 2000 and 2010, while intentional killings claimed a total of 2,028 lives during the same period.
The Goodman DUI reforms that were signed into law:
- Require cameras to be installed on alcohol-detecting ignition-interlock devices—at no cost to the state—to prevent offenders from fooling the technology by having someone else breathe into the device.
- Authorize law enforcement officers to administer breath or blood tests for felony DUI arrests without the suspect’s consent.
- Expand DUI laws to cover “huffing”—inhaling intoxicating or hallucinatory vapors to get high.
- Make DUI offenders liable for up to $2,500 of emergency-response costs—up from $1,000.
- Require plea agreements and sentences for felony DUI cases to be kept as public records, while preventing courts from vacating convictions for felony DUI.
- Give courts the authority to order offenders to submit to alcohol monitoring.
The measure also ensures that offenders and the ignition-interlock industry will cover the full costs of operating an effective ignition-interlock program through the Washington State Patrol. Another provision gives cities the ability to create DUI courts or enter into agreements with counties for DUI court services. Currently, only counties can operate DUI courts.
In addition to signing Goodman’s drunk-driving reforms into law, Gregoire also signed a Goodman measure to crack down on metal theft (House Bill 2570).
In a hearing on Goodman’s metal-theft bill, Puget Sound Energy spokesperson Nancy Wood said that 97 percent of the nation’s utilities were hit by metal thefts in 2010. The damage included 29 deaths and more than $50 million of stolen copper, not including the costs of repairs and interruptions in service.
“It puts our customers and our employees at risk, creating potentially hazardous situations in our substations and across the system,” Wood said.
A new report released this month by the National Insurance Crime Bureau documents an 81 percent increase in reported metal thefts since 2008.
Goodman’s bill stiffens penalties by ensuring that the cost of any damage resulting from a metal theft is added to the value of the stolen metal when determining sentences.
Gregoire vetoed a section of the metal theft bill that would create a task force to map out further strategies for combating the crime.
“Although I’m disappointed the task force language was removed, I’ll continue to bring together law enforcement, metal-theft experts, utilities and other metal-theft victims to find solutions to this increasingly dangerous problem,” Goodman said.
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