Padden DUI bill approved by Senate Law and Justice Committee

Today members of the state Senate Law and Justice Committee unanimously voted to advance 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.

Senate Bill 5299 would allow more repeat offenders to be sentenced to prison terms. Washington makes the fourth DUI conviction a felony, but under current law, courts may consider only convictions within the last 10 years.

“If I had my choice, there would be no look-back period,” said Padden, who for years has worked with groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Washington State Patrol and prosecutors to strengthen the state’s felony DUI laws. “We know repeat offenders pose the greatest danger on our roads and highways, and those with a history of repeat offenses are far more likely to be involved in the deadliest cases of vehicular assault.

“I’d say I am saddened and heartbroken by the tragic stories of drunk drivers that unfortunately continue to occur again and again but being saddened and heartbroken is not enough. What’s needed is the determination to change a system that repeatedly fails victims of DUIs by allowing one offender after another to continue to hit the roads while intoxicated. We must lay down the law, end the scourge of impaired driving and stop this completely preventable loss of life.”

SB 5299 received the support of the Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney’s office, the Washington State Patrol, the state Traffic Safety Commission, the Washington Association of Prosecutors, the King County Prosecutor’s office, and the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.

The bill now moves to the fiscal Ways and Means Committee for its consideration.