Gov. Jay Inslee and a number of legislators offered details of their new DUI bill today.

House Bill 2030 and its companion Senate Bill 5912 call for significant increases in penalties -- even for first-time offenders. Some of the new policies that could be added to DUI procedures would include:

  • Mandatory arrest for first-time offenders
  • Mandatory interlock devices for ALL DUI defendant vehicles
  • For second offenders, choice of either six months jail time or enrollment in a new Sobriety 24-7 program.

Although DUI fatalities are down 35 percent in Washington state, several recent accidents involving impaired drivers resulted in deaths and serious injuries.

The two bills are scheduled for a joint hearing in the House and Senate and are expected to pass.

Critics applaud the jail time option and rehab ideas, but oppose the additional fines. They believe the extra fees should be reserved to severely punish second-time offenders.

Studies have shown first-time offenders who participate in drug court programs, or those who were arrested with a blood alcohol content of less than 0.10 are far less likely to re-offend than those found with 0.15 or higher.

Currently in Washington state (not including attorney fees or projected insurance costs) it usually costs a first-time DUI offender at least $1,200. These include driving school (if assigned) and the license re-issue fee.

Even now, most first-time offenders are already required to have an interlock device installed. These critics say while its necessary to be tough on impaired motorists, they say the system needs to focus on repeat offenders.

Either way, it appears Washington, who already has DUI laws that are rated among the most stringent in the U.S., are about to get tougher.

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