“As a 25-year career law enforcement officer, I've lost count of how many lives have been harmed or lost by those who have chosen to drive while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. One more victim — one more crash — is one too many,” said Klippert. “We, at the Legislature, seek to stop the pain and suffering caused by alcohol- or drug-impaired driving. This bill would hold people accountable, increase safety, and deter unsafe behavior. It would ultimately save lives.”
House Bill 1504 is the result of a House Public Safety Committee work group that came together to review current DUI law and identify what changes should be made to reduce the number of DUI-related collisions. In 2017, there were 178 deaths caused by intoxicated drivers in Washington state.
Under the legislation, the definition of “physical control” is clarified to help impaired or intoxicated individuals who get behind the wheel know what their next steps should be: get safely off the roadway, turn the ignition off, and get out of the driver's seat.
Other provisions of the bill include:
- Enhancements to current penalties of any intoxicated person operating a vehicle with children present;
- If a person has been convicted of DUI, and the court orders that person to operate a vehicle with an ignition interface device, and if that person fails to use the device, law enforcement has the authority to impound the vehicle they are driving; and
- If a public safety agency responds to a DUI incident, the intoxicated driver could be held financially liable for the costs of the emergency response.
“The most effective way to bring forward real change is when we work together! We've seen our collaborative efforts pay off this session with a couple major legislative victories. The first was the I-940 consensus. Now, we've seen the same with this bill. Through the hard bipartisan work alongside law enforcement, the courts, defense and prosecuting attorneys, the Department of Licensing, victim advocates and others, our work will make our roads safer,” continued Klippert. “We need to keep the momentum going. This bill shows we are serious about saving lives. There is still a lot of work to do, but I'm positive we're moving in the right direction.”
Klippert's bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration.