Padden bill to get tougher on repeat DUIs passes Senate

Today the Senate voted 45-3 to approve Sen. Mike Padden’s bill to extend the “look-back” in DUI cases, allowing courts to consider convictions over the preceding 15 years when preparing to hand down a sentence.

Padden urged the House of Representatives to follow the Senate’s lead in protecting citizens from repeat DUI offenders.

“While I am glad to see my colleagues in the Senate advance this legislation, it’s time for our friends in the House to step up,” said Padden, R-Spokane Valley.

“We have seen one shocking story after another this year about DUI fatalities and high levels of DUI arrests. We have an obligation to address this public-safety nightmare, which is harming way too many families in our state.”

According to committee testimony on the bill, people who have a prior DUI are 67 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than a comparable person with no priors. Prosecutors also argued that the bill would give them much more flexibility to encourage treatment options.

Senate Bill 5299 would allow more repeat offenders to be sentenced to prison terms. Washington makes the fourth DUI conviction a felony, but by law courts may consider only convictions within the last 10 years. SB 5299 would allow judges to look back an additional 5 years in considering previous offenses.

Padden called the measure a small but very important step in the right direction.

“By increasing the look-back period, this bill would have serious consequences for those who refuse to stop driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” said Padden, a former district-court judge who serves as the lead Republican on the Senate Law and Justice Committee. “I really wish judges could consider all of a repeat offender’s DUI offenses, but this bill gets us closer to that goal.”

SB 5299 has the support of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney, the Washington Association of Prosecutors, the King County Prosecutor’s Office, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, the Washington State Patrol, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, the Attorney General’s Office, and the City of Seattle.