Spin Control

Senate passes tougher DUI bill

OLYMPIA – The Senate gave unanimous approval Wednesday to tougher laws against people who drive drunk or under the influence of drugs, particularly repeat offenders.

The proposal would require an automatic arrest for a second offense, and require ignition interlock devices on their vehicles before their cases go to trial. It would require a court appearance within 48 hours and set up a test program for repeat offenders have their sobriety monitored on a daily basis with electronic  home monitoring  rather than more expensive incarceration.

Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, the bill’s sponsor, called drunk driving a “preventable disease” that costs victims, their families and society. The bill now goes to the House, which must pass it before the second special session ends.

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Wells, D-Seattle, argued that judges should be given greater leeway with drivers convicted of impaired driving if they have a doctor's recommendation for medical marijuana. Chemicals from marijuana remain in the blood stream longer than alcohol or many other drugs, and making patients give up their medical marijuana in order to drive was "totally unjust."

But judges routinely order drunk drivers not to drive if they drink, Padden said, and marijuana should be treated the same way if a person is convicted of impaired driving. "Impaired means impaired," he said.

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden is the Olympia bureau chief, covering the Legislature and state government. He also is a political columnist and blogger for Spin Control.

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