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Inslee signs suicide prevention bill, dozens of others

Gov. Jay Inslee hands the pen used to sign a suicide prevention bill to Zoe Adler, 5, of Seattle, while her brother Jake, age 9, looks on.

OLYMPIA – With strokes of a pen, Gov. Jay Inslee approved statewide suicide prevention training for medical professionals, raised some motor vehicle fees pay for a new ferry, banned most teens from tanning salons, toughened penalties for drunk drivers and required public records training for most elected officials.

Between the official signings of some four dozen bills in a marathon session Thursday morning, Inslee criticized the Legislature for exempting itself from rules it imposed on other officials and at one point broke down when describing the losses in the Oso mudslide, where he’d talked with families of victims the night before.

He agreed with a recent assessment that the Snohomish County mudslide could top the Mount St. Helens eruption and produce the largest loss of life from a natural disaster in state history, but added: “We’re looking for miracles” . . .

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WA Lege Day 15: Panel OKs tougher DUI laws

OLYMPIA – A pair of proposals for tougher drunk driving laws were sent to the budget writers Monday to figure out how the state might pay for more people serving time.

One proposal would make the fourth conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, compared to current law which makes the fifth conviction a felon; A second would allow courts to consider convictions from the past 15 years rather than seven years, the current limit. Both passed the Senate Law and Justice Committee on 5-2 votes.

Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, said he supported the policy but wondered where the money would come from to pay for the additional jail and prison term. That could be nearly $3 million in 2015-17, Kline said, and without a new source of money the Senate Ways and Means Committee would be “robbing from other programs” for things like schools, social services and environmental programs.

“That is the duty of the Ways and Means Committee,” said Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, sponsor of the bill that reduces the number of convictions. “What we’re doing with these bills is saving lives.”

Tougher sentencing on DUI hinges on funding

OLYMPIA – Drunk drivers could face prison on their fourth conviction – one less than Washington law currently allows – if the Legislature can find a way to pay for the extra costs for that time in state prisons and county jails. One possible source of money: some of the taxes the state currently collects on alcohol, and some of what it expects to collect for legal marijuana.

With victims recounting stories of devastated families and law enforcement officials asking for tougher laws, a Senate panel was solidly behind a bill that drivers should face a felony charge for they are arrested a fourth time in 10 years for driving drunk or under the influence of marijuana or other drugs.

“Lives will be saved and hearts won’t be broken forever,” Linda Thompson of the Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council told the Senate Law and Justice Committee Monday.

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Tougher DUI bill passes House

OLYMPIA — Like the Senate a day before, the House gave unanimous approval Thursday to tougher penalties for people who drive drunk or under the influence of drugs.

It requires anyone arrested on a second driving under the influence charge be taken to jail, spends more money to speed prosecutions and requires an interlock system be installed on the suspect's car within five days of release. It also sets up a test program for daily testing for alcohol and drugs, plus electronic monitoring of  people convicted of multiple drunk driving offenses as an alternative to incarceration.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, passed the House 92-0 after a 46-0 vote in the Senate. Tougher DUI standards was one of the priorities Gov. Jay Inslee had set for the special session of the Legislature.

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.

Butte man arrested for impersonating officer

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — Police in Butte have arrested a man on suspicion of impersonating a public servant, driving under the influence and reckless driving.

The Montana Standard reports (http://bit.ly/14XV7dy ) 47-year-old James S. Richards Sr. of Butte was arrested Tuesday and remained jailed Wednesday morning.

Prosecutors allege Richards was driving recklessly on Interstate 90 near Ramsay Tuesday afternoon and forced another vehicle to pull over. The four people in the vehicle said Richards confronted them and claimed to be a member of a drug task force before leaving the scene without further incident.

They called 911.

A police patrol car stopped a pickup truck matching the description of the one that forced the vehicle off the road. The officer determined that Richards was intoxicated.

Drunk driving crackdown moves forward as booze bills are signed

OLYMPIA – As a Senate committee approved tougher laws against impaired drivers Tuesday, some senators wondered aloud if the Legislature isn’t at least partially responsible for putting more drunks on the road by expanding the places where alcohol is consumed.

Less than an hour after the Senate Law and Justice Committee gave unanimous approval to a proposal that would require more and quicker jail time for drivers convicted of alcohol or drug impairment, Gov. Jay Inslee signed four bills the Legislature recently passed that add new places from which a person might be driving after legally consuming alcohol. . .

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Spec Sess Day 2: Tougher DUI bill passes committee

OLYMPIA — A law that toughens the state's drunk driving laws, in part by increasing mandatory jail time, received unanimous approval this morning from the Senate Law and Justice Committee.

Despite concerns by some senators that it didn't go far enough, or provide money to cities and counties for the higher costs of extra prosecutions for driving under the influence, all committee members gave it at least tentative support.

Just who was responsible for some of the drunks on the road was part of the debate. The Legislature must accept some responsibility, Sen. Jeanne Darnielle, D-Tacoma, said because it continues to increase the number of places where a person can consume alcohol — at movie theaters, public markets and spas —  and then drive home.

The voters should accept some of the blame, said Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn. They opened up sales of distilled spirits in supermarkets through a 2011 initiative, and legalized marijuana consumption by adults in 2012. Stores like Costco now have mountains of liquor on display in their aisles, she said.

Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, tried unsuccessfully to attach amendments that would pay for increased prosecutions and incarcerations by extending the temporary tax on beer that was imposed in 2010 and is due to expire on June 30.  Committee Chairman Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said taxes to pay for the bill is something the Ways and Means Committee will address.

The bill makes a fourth conviction for driving under the influence a felony, down from five convictions under the current law. It sets up mandatory jail time or treatment programs for earlier offenses, would allow judges to order a drunk driver to abstain from alcohol and submit to mandatory daily testing.

Gov. Jay Inslee said Monday that tougher drunk driving laws were one of the three top priorities for the special session, along with passing an operating budget for 2013-15 and a package of new transportation projects that will require some new revenue.

Tougher DUI penalties need work, panel told

OLYMPIA – Efforts to fast-track a crackdown on repeat drunk drivers, announced with bipartisan fanfare Tuesday, hit some go slow warnings Thursday from prosecutors, judges and cops.

They're raising so many questions that a key committee chairman all but acknowledged Thursday the Legislature might not have a final bill ready by the end of its regular session just nine days away.

“The bill has some significant flaws,” Rep. Roger Goodman, R-Kirkland, the chairman of the House Public Safety Committee, acknowledged during a hearing on House Bill 2030. “We’re not going to jam this bill through.”

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219 DUI arrests over holiday season

A holiday season crackdown on drunken driving led to 219 arrests across Spokane, Pend Oreille and Ferry counties.

That’s up from 197 arrests during the same period a year earlier, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. The increase is attributed to the first-ever “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement effort from Nov. 21 to Jan. 1 targeting drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Statewide, 3,446 motorists were arrested during the crackdown.

Participating in the Eastern Washington crackdown were the following law enforcement agencies: Cheney, Airway Heights, Eastern Washington University, Republic, Spokane and Spokane Valley police departments; the Spokane, Pend Oreille and Ferry County sheriff’s offices; and the Washington State Patrol, with the support of the Spokane County Target Zero Task Force.

The extra patrols were funded by a grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

Judge orders mental evaluation for 14th-time DUI offender

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― An Ada County judge has ordered a mental health evaluation for a 55-year-old Boise man who was recently convicted of his 14th DUI. Terry Ash was to be sentenced Wednesday after a June conviction for driving under the influence last September and for being a persistent offender. Prosecutor Shelly Armstrong recommended that Ash be sentenced to 20 years to life, but Ash's attorney asked for a mental evaluation for his client, citing a history of psychological programs, poverty and other extenuating circumstances. The evaluation is set for Oct. 17 at the Ada County jail. Armstrong says Ash's DUI convictions date back to 1971.

Appeals court upholds lifetime CDL suspension for second off-the-job DUI

The Idaho Court of Appeals has rejected an appeal from a Kootenai County man who said a state law removing his commercial driver's license for life after his second, off-the-job DUI constituted double jeopardy and excessive, cruel and unusual punishment. Steven Leslie Williams sued the Idaho Transportation Department, but 1st District Judge Lansing Haynes rejected his challenge of his lifetime suspension; a unanimous Court of Appeals upheld Haynes' decision.

Chief Judge David Gratton, writing for the court, found that the punishment wasn't excessive and it was related to legitimate legislative goals. “The reason for the deprivation is public safety, one of the legislature's highest priorities,” Gratton wrote. “Removing a problem driver from the roadways in order to protect public safety is rationally related to a lifetime CDL disqualification for driving offenses occurring while driving a non-commercial vehicle.”

Noted Gratton, “Williams chose to drive while impaired, endangering the public on two separate occasions. If Williams wanted to retain his CDL, he could have abided by the conditions placed on his CDL.” The court also noted in a footnote that state regulations allow the Idaho Transportation Department to reinstate a lifetime suspension after 10 years, if the driver has successfully completed a state-approved rehabilitation program. You can read the court decision here.
  

Drunk driver must pay for pants, not police car

A recalcitrant drunken driver must pay $68 to replace pants that a Boise police officer ripped during a foot chase, the AP reports, but the Idaho Court of Appeals ruled the man doesn't have to fork over another $1,089 for damage to a patrol car that hit and killed his dog during the 2010 incident, for which he pleaded guilty and was sent to prison for up to 15 years. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller; you can read the Court of Appeals decision here.

How drunk are you? There’s an app for that

Like almost everything else, there's an application for your smart phone to tell you how stupid you've become on booze.

The makers say it might keep you from doing really foolish things at your office holiday party, or at family gatherings, or from driving into a DUI on the way home from such gatherings.

You can read more about it here.

Statewide crackdown on impaired driving starts today

A statewide effort by law enforcement agencies to target impaired drivers kicks off today and runs through July 12. Funded by a federal grant, it’ll focus on catching and arresting anyone driving under the influence, including motorcycle riders. Special patrols are planned over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Click below to read ITD’s announcement.

Strike three, you’re out!

SHEBOYGAN, Wisc. — A Spokane woman visiting Wisconsin last year was arrested for drunken driving three times in three days, according to court records released Wednesday.

Jo A. Trilling, of Spokane, Wash., who was sentenced on the final two cases last week, was arrested in each case after driving off the road and getting her car stuck. She was arrested March 11, 12 and 13 of 2008, racking up a total of 30 days in jail and more than $3,000 in fines.

 

According to authorities: Trilling was first arrested about 2 p.m. March 11, 2008, when a Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department deputy noticed her trying to drive out of a ditch near the Kohler-Andrae entrance. The deputy noticed Trilling wore only one shoe and smelled of intoxicants.

A later blood test revealed a blood-alcohol level of 0.21, more than 2½ times the legal limit.

Exactly 24 hours later, the Kohler-Andrae park superintendent spotted Trilling’s car stuck in the snow in a campground that was closed for the winter. He told Trilling she would have had to drive through a muddy side lane and maintenance gate to get to that point, and she said she did not remember that.

Trilling told an officer she had “four or six cups of wine,” adding, “I am still finishing up the box of wine in my car from yesterday.”

Police say they found a box of Black Fox wine and a partial cup of wine in the car.

Trilling was arrested and again served the mandatory 12 hours in jail before being released without bond, officials said. She then headed for Cottage Grove, in Dane County, where she was arrested after a citizen reported she was “all over the road,” according to a police report.

A partial bottle of wine was found in the car. Trilling had a blood alcohol-level of 0.16.

The Cottage Grove case was concluded first and therefore listed in court records as the first offense. Trilling was fined $730 for that offense, $906 for the March 11 arrest in Sheboygan and $1,221 for the March 12 arrest in Sheboygan. Trilling was also fined $372 for an ordinance violation of resisting or obstructing an officer during the March 12 arrest.

Anyone want to wager what she’ll do when she completes her mandatory jail time THIS TIME? My money is on another bottle of vino.


Dave