Smith targets DUI laws
This week Rep. Norma Smith introduced two pieces of legislation that seek to strengthen penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol convictions.
Over the most recent Super Bowl weekend between midnight and the early morning hours, Washington State Troopers made 125 DUI arrests. Smith believes current laws regarding driving under the influence, especially for repeat offenders, are inadequate and much of the reason DUI continues to be one of the most common crimes committed in the state.
Smith's first bill, House Bill 2027, would address repeat offenders. If a person has had two or more DUIs in the span of seven years, it would make the third conviction a class C felony. Currently the law requires four or more prior DUI offenses within 10 years to reach a class C felony charge – a number that Smith believes is far too high.
“The bills I've introduced would be important steps in addressing our inadequate laws for repeat DUI offenders and vehicular homicide and assault,” said Smith, R-Clinton. “Driving under the influence continues to be one of the greatest and most persistent threats in our country. Public safety is at the heart of all we do as legislators, and it's about time we start taking this issue seriously and get drunk drivers off the road. Washington state must send a clear message to those continually making poor choices that endanger innocent people.”
Smith's second bill, House Bill 2028, seeks to modify vehicular homicide and vehicular assault provisions. This bill would add an additional four years to the standard sentence range for vehicular homicide committed while under the influence. Current law only adds an additional two years to the standard sentencing range for ending someone's life as a result of driving under the influence.
“DUI-related crashes cost our society millions of dollars annually. That is nothing compared to the grief so many families have suffered because of an individual's choice to drink and drive,” said Smith. “I met with the family of a young wife and mother in our district earlier this year who was killed by a drunk driver, and it became even more apparent that our current laws simply do not fit the crime. Her life was ended by the repeated irresponsible choices of another. It's one thing to talk about the adequacy or inadequacy of our laws – it's an entirely different perspective to see the real-life consequences resulting from these tragic choices.”
Both bills received bipartisan support from other House colleagues, and have been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
###Washington State House Republican Communications