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On July 17th, 2003 at 1 a.m. while working a vehicle accident, I was struck by a drunk driver. I lost everything I had. My wife left, as 1 year of watching me have seizures and not get better was too much for her. More

Drunk Driving News

Drunk Driving Fatalities Drop to Lowest Rate since 1950

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced that U.S. fatalities due to drunk driving fell to a record low number in 2009, declining by 7.4% from 2008, with a 19% decrease since 2000. This represents the lowest number since 1950. More

Drug and Alcohol Courts: An Effective Alternative to Jail

Drug courts were developed in the 1980's in an effort to stop the abuse of alcohol and other drugs, and to reduce the criminal activity that typically accompanies these behaviors. More

More News

Hold Drunk Drivers Responsible

House Bill 1789 passed by the Washington State legislature

House Bill 1789 was passed by the Washington State legislature with unanimous votes in both the Senate and House, and was signed into law by Governor Chris Gregoire on May 10, 2011. This new legislation allows for stiffer sentences of DUI defendants, and broadens the use of ignition interlock devices which prevent a vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected in the driver’s breath.

While Washington State has recently experienced the lowest numbers of traffic fatalities since the state began keeping records, the number of alcohol and DUI-related deaths remains significantly higher than the national average. In Washington, 41% of traffic deaths involve drunk drivers; the national average is 32%.

House Bill 1789:

  • Maintains the mandatory minimum jail terms for first-time driving under the influence (DUI) offenders and requires the offender to pay for the cost of incarceration.
  • Requires any sentence for DUI vehicular homicide to be served in full; there is no longer time credited for good behavior.
  • Requires all drivers convicted of reckless driving or negligent driving in the first degree and who have a DUI conviction within the past seven years to install an ignition interlock device, under certain circumstances. Ignition interlock devices will be required beginning September 1, 2011.
  • Makes any subsequent DUI conviction a felony if the offender has a prior felony DUI conviction.
  • Expands prior offenses to include all vehicular assault or vehicular homicide convictions when the prior charge was based on driving under the influence (DUI).

House Bill 1789 does not include the provision that DUI checkpoints can be used by law enforcement, which was part of the original version of this bill. However, the legislation will assuredly increase the safety on Washington State roadways when the bill goes into effect in September. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that re-arrest rates for drunk drivers decreased by approximately 67% for people who had interlock devices, compared to people who only had their licenses suspended.
Brett & Coats is heartened to see that our state legislators are clearly committed to reducing the threat of drunk driving in Washington State, and that legislation such as this is a valuable step in the right direction. Only when offenders are forced to take responsibility for their actions will the epidemic of drunk driving be eradicated.

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