Mothers Against Drunk Driving has again named state Sen. Mike Padden “Legislator of the Year” for his continuing effort to toughen Washington laws against driving under the influence.
The national-level award goes to lawmakers in each state who have demonstrated leadership on the issue. Padden, R-Spokane Valley, is one of 70 recipients nationally of MADD’s “Legislative Champion” award, and he is the only recipient this year from Washington state.
Last session, Padden sponsored a measure that would make a 4th DUI offense a felony. Currently Washington requires five DUI convictions during a 10-year period to qualify a repeat offender for a stay in prison. Though the Senate passed SB 5105 unanimously on three occasions, House leaders did not permit a vote on the floor.
“I have always said driving under the influence is a preventable crime,” said Padden, chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee. “The trauma and heartbreak associated with DUI is senseless and causes so much damage to our society. And our felony DUI law certainly deserves our attention.
“Of the 46 states that allow for felony DUI convictions, Washington’s law is the weakest. What happened last session was a disappointment, but I am hoping House leaders will recognize the importance of this issue during the 2016 legislative session.”
Padden, a former district court judge, has long made drunk-driving prevention a focus. On the bench in Spokane he presided over an innovative DUI court, and later he served as judicial liaison for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to Region 10 from 2008 to 2011. In the Legislature, he co-chaired a task force on impaired driving, and he led a successful effort to pass comprehensive anti-DUI legislation in 2013.
Padden shared the MADD award with state Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, in 2013.
“MADD thanks Senator Padden for being a leader in the battle to eliminate the scourge of drunk driving in Washington,” said Wilma Comenat, executive director of MADD Washington. “Senator Padden’s commitment to protecting residents and visitors in Washington from this completely preventable crime makes him a true MADD legislative champion.”