Under current Washington state law, an individual may face felony DUI charges if they have been convicted of four or more DUIs – or similar priorable offenses – within the past 10 years. If a new measure making its way through the Senate is passed, a fourth DUI – rather than a fifth – will become a felony offense.
The measure – Senate Bill 6090 – was introduced to a Senate panel earlier this week, Monday January 20. By reducing the threshold for felony charges in DUI cases, lawmakers and advocates hope to send a clear message to deter motorists from driving drunk and reduce the amount of habitual offenders on the road. A similar bill was proposed last year, but was ultimately not passed due to budget concerns.
Washington is currently the only state requiring four previous convictions for a felony DUI. In most states, a fourth or third DUI will result in felony charges. In Indiana, Minnesota, New York, and Oklahoma, individuals can face felony charges for a second DUI.
Although many legislators are in favor of creating tougher felony DUI laws, funding has proven to be one of the most significant barriers. As a felony offense, individuals convicted of a fourth DUI within 10 years could face time in a state prison, rather than a county jail. With swelling prison populations and dwindling resources, housing more offenders in prisons can prove costly. Lawmakers considering ways to pay for the extra burden are focusing on taxes collected on alcohol and, potentially, taxes that will be collected on retail sales of marijuana.
Although the bill is expected to be voted on in the coming days, Washington residents should take note that the state is making a major push to toughen DUI laws and limit chances for multiple DUI offenders. Regardless of what the outcome may be, it must also be noted that current Washington DUI laws are already harsh, especially for repeat offenders. Penalties, fines, and terms of imprisonment, for example, increase with each subsequent DUI conviction within 10 years.
Facing Multiple DUI Charges? Call 866-620-9524 today!
If you or your loved one is currently facing DUI allegations and have previously been convicted of one or more offenses within the past 10 years, working with a proven Seattle DUI lawyer is crucial. For more information about your case and how Attorney Jonathan Dichter can fight on your behalf, call 866-620-9524. DUI Heroes represents clients throughout Snohomish and King Counties.