New Bill Would Make 4th Offense DUI a Felony

Washington state lawmakers are revisiting an idea to make a driver’s fourth drunken-driving conviction within 10 years a felony.

Under current Washington law, a felony DUI charge applies only if a driver already has been convicted of DUI four times in the previous decade. That’s the highest threshold among the 45 states that have laws to make repeat DUI offenders felons, said the bill’s author, Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley.

Padden first proposed the idea last year but said that bill failed because of concerns over the expense of imprisoning more drunken drivers for felony convictions. He said Wednesday he believes this year’s bill has a better chance because a handful of Senate Democrats have signed on as co-sponsors. The measure also has support from Padden’s Republican colleagues.

He said several victims of car crashes caused by repeat DUI offenders are scheduled to speak at a public hearing Thursday. Senate Bill 5105 will be before the Senate Law and Justice Committee, of which Padden is the chairman.

Capitol lawmakers have contemplated lowering Washington’s threshold for felony DUI from the fifth offense to the fourth offense since 2013, upon the recommendation of a work group created by Gov. Jay Inslee to toughen impaired-driving laws after a series of fatal wrecks.

Padden said he hopes the cost obstacle can be overcome this year to bring Washington’s DUI law closer to those in neighboring states. Both Oregon and Idaho have laws to make a driver’s third DUI within a decade a felony.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a DUI, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer. 

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