In recent Washington news the increase in DUI punishment laws set in motion by Governor Jay Inslee have been the talk of the state. Discussions over the need for new laws have been talked about heavily over the past few years and lawmakers have finally reached a decision. The new laws are as follows:
Police would have to arrest and take the driver into custody after a first DUI offense, according to the Governor’s office. After a second offense, drivers would have to choose between treatment or a mandatory six months in jail.
“Drivers convicted of a third DUI would get at least a one-year prison sentence. In addition, a three-time offender will be issues a new driver’s license that would prevent them from buying alcohol for 10 years.”
In my opinion, these still just aren’t strong enough. Drunk driving is a serious offense and needs to start being viewed as just that. People die all the time, literally all the time, weather from being hit by a drunk driver or driving drunk themselves. This not something to be taken lightly and despite the governors comments, that’s just what lawmakers are doing.
DUI offense #1 new law: All first time offenders will be taken into custody. Great…then what? Simply taking a DUI driver into custody is not enough. Most frequently they are booked-and-released anyway so taking them into custody is pointless when they are let free immediately following the arrest. It’s a good start, but further action needs to be taken. Even more frequently than book and release, the offender goes to court and gets the charge reduced or dropped! That is far too common in this state, offenders go to court, work out a deal where they attend a few alcohol awareness courses and then suddenly they didn’t actually commit DUI. How do they ever learn? This is exactly why there is are so many repeat offenders like the ones mentioned in the press release about the lawmakers decision.
DUI offense #2 new law-choose between a treatment program or 6 months in jail. Too bad half the treatment programs out there don’t work and don’t follow strict enough guidelines to work, not to mention they can be completed in a much shorter time frame than 6 months. Why is it even at all that offenders convicted of TWO DUI’s have a choice between anything? They clearly are not capable of making rational choices on their own so why would we allow them to chose their own sentencing? Mandatory jail time should be in place ALONG WITH treatment upon release from jail. Jail time should be decided upon the nature of both DUI’s but I think without question jail time should be a mandatory repercussion of making the choice to continuously drink and drive along with treatment. If a person is making that choice of repeatedly drinking and driving, they have a problem and need treatment.
DUI offense #3 new law-minimum one year in jail and alcohol restrictions on buying for 10 years. This one really hits hard. One year in jail. ONE YEAR IN JAIL. One year of your life for the potential of taking another’s away forever (if they didn’t). This seems so unfair. Other crimes even less serious than DUI’s receive longer punishment than this. How does one year of a life equate to the possibilities or damages to others lives? Not to mention that there are obviously ways around not purchasing alcohol. Minors do it all the time for one prime example and of-age people do it all the time for convenience reasons. Not too punishable in the large scale of things.
My point here is that people who chose to drink and drive need to be held responsible for their actions. Too often they let go without enough punishment to make an impact on their lives not to do it again. As the governor said, “Every accident and every death we see involving a DUI could have been prevented,” Maybe not every but you get the point.
A girl I know recently received a DUI when she leaving a downtown bar one night. She was stopped, given sobriety tests, a breathalyzer, brought to the station and immediately released. She also was rightfully stopped and arrested because frankly she should not have been driving, so why was she immediately released? What lesson did that teach her exactly? Especially because after going to court her DUI was reduced and no longer a DUI, she was assigned some community service and paid a fine. Bam, just like that. Her license was suspended for blowing over a .08 BAC and a mandatory suspension from the DOL is in place for three months, she still drives everywhere in a car not registered to her including after leaving the bars. So to recap, she drove drunk, was immediately released from jail, still drives, and learned nothing.
This is why we need to re-evaluate our policies.