[Update 2:50pm] For those interested in details about traffic safety in Washington State check out WSDOT Strategic Highway Safety Plan. Of traffic fatalities from 2006-2008 in the state 13% involved impairment only, 8% involved impairment and speeding, 10% involved impairment and run-off-road, and 17% involved all three factors. Of all fatalities, 48% of involved impairment as a contributing factor (see page 15,20 of report).
We don’t often dive into issue related to the Attorney General but today’s press release from Attorney General Candidate Bob Ferguson piqued my interest. Ferguson, who is currently on the King County Council, and is running against Reagan Dunn, who is also on the Council and voted against the Congestion Reduction Charge (CRC), is calling for tougher penalties and treatment of DUI offenders, backing up his proposal with some shocking statistics.
SEATTLE, WA – Candidate for Attorney General and Chair of the King County Law and Justice Committee Bob Ferguson today announced a plan to Protect Washington Families on our Roads. The plan calls for new laws to hold Washington’s most dangerous DUI offenders accountable.
“Washington currently has a higher percentage of DUI-related deaths than 43 other states,” said Ferguson. “As Attorney General, I will fight to make our roads safer and protect families traveling on our roads. The time has come to take a tougher approach.”
In the past five years, nearly 2,000 people have been killed as the result of drunk drivers on Washington State roads. Among the 50 states, Washington ranks number 7 in the highest percentage of DUI-related deaths.
Read the rest of the press release below the jump.
Ferguson’s proposal will:
1) Increase the sanctions for DUI offenders who injure or kill others;
2) Increase the sanctions for repeat DUI offenders;
3) Increase the sanctions for offenders who put children at risk;
4) Enforce zero tolerance for driving under the influence of PCP, meth, cocaine, and ecstasy; and
5) Treat those with drug and alcohol dependency.
Ferguson’s proposal calls for doubling the penalties for Vehicular Assault (DUI) and Vehicular Homicide (DUI). He proposes doubling the jail time for anyone convicted of driving under the influence with a child in the car. He proposes joining states that make the third DUI received in the span of ten years a felony. Ferguson also proposes joining the 15 states that make it an automatic, or per se, DUI offense for driving under the influence of any amount of PCP, methamphetamine, cocaine, or ecstasy.
Ferguson, a strong supporter of local funding for mental health and chemical dependency services in King County, also calls for enhanced drug and alcohol treatment options for DUI offenders to reduce DUI recidivism.
Ferguson’s plan has been endorsed by Island County Prosecutor, Greg Banks. “I strongly support the 3 strikes model for DUI convictions. Allowing someone to rack up 5 DUIs before a serious penalty is imposed is just playing Russian roulette with the lives of anyone who drives, walks, or bikes on our roads,” said Prosecutor Banks. “Likewise, those who drive drunk with children should receive enhanced sentences, and I support increased treatment opportunities for substance abusers.”
Ferguson noted the good work being done around the state by prosecutors, legislators, Washington State Patrol Troopers, and local law enforcement on this issue.
“Our law enforcement community has done an admirable job enforcing the laws on the books,” said Ferguson. “It’s time to help them out by strengthening our laws, and let those who would drive drunk know there will be serious consequences.”
Bob Ferguson’s entire plan can be read online here.