OLYMPIA, WA - A state Senate bill that would make a person's fourth DUI in a ten-year span a felony went in front of the House Committee for Public Safety this afternoon. The bill passed in the Senate unanimously in February, and now must pass in the House before being sent to Governor Jay Inslee's desk.
Reporter Rex Carlin learned that Senate Bill 5037 would tighten Washington's tolerance for repeat DUI offenders. As of now, a person needs to have five DUIs in ten years to get charged with a felony, so this bill would lower that number to four.
The bill passed the state Senate by a vote of 41 to 0.
Today at the hearing, drunk driving victims and their families spoke in favor of tightening DUI laws, including one man whose father-in-law was killed in Yakima three years ago by a drunk driver.
"My father-in-law, Russ Bartlett, was killed in Yakima on May 29th of 2014," said Dale Panattoni. "He was taking a walk on the sidewalk at 9:30 in the morning, and he was hit from behind by a drunk and drugged driver. She was driving a motor home. He was killed instantly."
DUI is considered a gross misdemeanor unless there are aggravating circumstances in a particular case.
The next step is to schedule a date for the bill to be introduced on the House floor, and then of course the House needs to actually vote on it before it heads to Governor Inslee's desk to be signed into law.