A proposed law that would make a fourth DUI charge in Washington state a felony has passed the state Senate and now heads to the House of Representative and the chamber’s Public Safety Committee for consideration.
Senate Bill 5037 is co-sponsored by first-term State Sen. Guy Palumbo (D-1st District); the 1st District includes Brier and the portion of Mountlake Terrace east of I-5.
Under current state law, a DUI is a gross misdemeanor and only becomes a felony with the fifth DUI charge.
Palumbo said the state law needs to change due to the number of fatality accidents involving drivers under the influence.
“I’m tired of reading about innocent people and children losing their lives because someone who was drunk decided to get behind the wheel,” Palumbo said. “If you decide to drive drunk when you have already been charged three times for DUI, you’re simply not getting the message.”
The state Senate Law and Justice Committee cited that Washington is the only state in the country that waits until a fifth DUI to make the charge a felony. The committee also noted that half of all traffic deaths in the United States involve an impaired driver.
After clearing the Senate Law & Justice Committee, SB 5037 passed the full state Senate 41-0 last week and received its first reading in the House Public Safety Committee on Feb. 24.
“Hopefully this bill will keep repeat DUI offenders off the road and we will see fewer people hurt because of these irresponsible actors,” Palumbo concluded.
Palumbo is one of 14 state Senate bipartisan co-sponsors of SB 5037.
–By Doug Petrowski