Senate unanimously approves Padden’s DUI legislation

padden_pqThe Senate today gave its unanimous endorsement to legislation proposed by Sen. Mike Padden that would do more to keep people from driving under the influence on Washington roads.

Padden, R-Spokane Valley, hopes the House of Representatives will act on Senate Bill 5912 while its members are waiting to formally weigh in on a new state operating budget. A budget agreement was announced today, but it takes time to print and distribute the new spending plan so the Senate and House can cast their votes.

“As I’ve told my colleagues more than once, DUI is a completely preventable crime,” said Padden, chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, “and this bill is less about punishment than it is about preventing DUI offenders from harming others – and adding another conviction to their records.

“I hope the House moves this bill through and on to the governor’s desk; then let’s get back to the budgets and wrap up our work for the year.”

Padden has worked on the bill since late April, when the Legislature was wrapping up its regular session and shortly after three people died and two were critically injured in a pair of recent high-profile DUI-related collisions in King County. He has steadily refined the legislation until it contains an effective blend of compassion and consequences at a cost that fits within the constraints of the new budget that will take effect Monday.

The measure features the pilot-level introduction of a 24/7 sobriety program in three counties and two cities – which will be used in place of or in addition to  electronic home monitoring – and requires an automatic arrest for a second offense, much the way people suspected of domestic violence are automatically arrested. Those booked on suspicion of a second DUI also will need to have ignition-interlock devices installed on their vehicles sooner, before their cases go to trial.

“This should help repeat DUI offenders to stay sober, or at least avoid getting behind the wheel again when they’re under the influence,” Padden said.