April 24, 2013 at 10:20 AM
State House panel delays vote on scaled-back DUI bill
OLYMPIA — The state House Public Safety Committee delayed a scheduled Wednesday vote on a scaled-back proposal to overhaul Washington’s drunken driving laws, potentially signaling trouble for a bill that was being fast-tracked.
The proposal, crafted after two fatal Seattle crashes that authorities have tied to alcohol, is a major priority of Gov. Jay Inslee and many lawmakers. But officials from law enforcement groups and local governments have questioned its feasibility and cost in recent days.
Committee chairman Roger Goodman, one of the proposal’s most ardent supporters, said he still hopes to pass it this year — despite there being just five days left in the regular legislative session.
For now, Goodman said, “it does feel like we’re rushing this too much.”
“We’re not going to let up,” said Goodman, D-Kirkland. “We’re just not going to be voting this morning.”
Before that announcement, committee members were preparing to vote on the bill, a scaled-back version of a proposal introduced to much fanfare last week.
The original version would have required that all people stopped on suspicion of drunken driving be arrested, charged quickly and their cars outfitted with an ignition interlock device before they left the impound lot.
The new version would apply that to those who have already been convicted of a DUI, but not to first-time offenders. And the interlock device would not be installed at the impound lot, but at a separate location days later.
The new version would increase jail sentences, but not by as much as the original.
And it would not prohibit those convicted of a third DUI from purchasing alcohol for 10 years.
Goodman acknowledged that provision appeared unworkable.
The Senate Law & Justice Committee, which is considering a similar DUI proposal, has scheduled a Thursday morning meeting but has not yet announced its agenda.
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