A person in Washington state, and pretty much elsewhere, is facing vehicular homicide if they kill another person while driving drunk, high, or impaired by prescription drugs. But a proposed Washington State Senate bill would add drowsy or sleepy drivers to that list. And it would more than double the time of their license being suspended.

Senate Bill SB 5648, proposed by State Senator Christine Rolfes of Olympia, would make some dramatic changes to who can be charged with vehicular homicide. The proposed bill states (in layman's terms):

  • If somebody dies within three years after being in a vehicle accident caused by the driving of any other person in any vehicle, the guilty driver will be charged with vehicular homicide. This would include someone, for example, who suffers permanent injury or is in a coma and later dies.
  • The bill adds sleep deprivation, drowsiness or falling asleep behind the wheel as a vehicular homicide chargeable offense. It  prevents someone from using that defense.
  • The bill raises the time of a suspended license for vehicular homicide from TWO to FIVE years.

The bill is currently headed to committee, to see if it makes it to the Senate floor for a vote.