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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Legislators push for tougher DUI laws

OLYMPIA -- Flanked by the families of people killed by drunk drivers, lawmakers from all four caucuses called Monday morning for tougher state DUI laws.

The decision is in the hands of budget negotiators to come up for money to pay for legislation making a person's fourth DUI conviction in 10 years a felony. Another bill would shorten the time allowed for hearings on license suspensions for those arrested, and allow  judges to require repeat offenders to submit to regular tests to ensure they have not consumed alcohol or drugs. 

But the four proponents of tougher DUI laws disagreed whether the Legislature should raise taxes to accomplish that goal. The estimated cost of making the fourth DUI a felony is about $10 million every two years, in court and sentencing expenses.

Two Democrats, Seattle Sen. David Frockt and Kirkland Rep. Roger Goodman said they'd support ending a tax exemption yes. Two Republicans, Spokane Valley Sen. Mike Padden and Kennewick Rep. Brad Klippert, insisted that wasn't necessary.

The Legislature has already passed a bill that doubles the potential penalties to 10 years and $20,000 for a fifth DUI conviction, which is a felony under state law.

The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.