Washington DUI Laws, Should they be tougher?
A little over a week ago all over the news it was reported that a man with five prior Washington State DUI arrests crashed into a family killing two people and critically injurying a mother and a newborn. This has raised the question, are Washington State DUI laws tough enough?In Washington State being convicted of a DUI means losing your license, mandatory jail
time, stiff fines and classes. The DUI laws in Washington are considered on a national scale pretty darn tough. I am very sad to hear about any unnecessary fatality and clearly in last week’s accident, the injuries and fatalities were not necessary. Could of it been prevented?
If Washington State DUI laws were tougher would they have prevented the accident? I know some people would disagree with using the word “accident,” but I don’t believe the man set out to hurt anyone. I am not condoning his actions by any means, but people need to recognize that there is a problem. The problem is likely alcoholism.
Over 18 million Americans are classified as alcohol dependent or having alcoholism, Alcoholism is considered a medical condition. Most everyone knows someone whose life is affected by this disease.
According to the National Institute of on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA): Alcoholism, the more serious of the disorders, is a disease that includes symptoms such as:
Craving—A strong need, or urge, to drink.
Loss of control—Not being able to stop drinking once drinking has begun.
Physical dependence—Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety after stopping drinking.
Tolerance—the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to feel the same effect.
Many courts in Washington State have attempted to address this problem my making pretrial SCRAM bracelets or Ignition Interlock Devices mandatory condition of release. However, this is just a bandage to the real problem: Alcoholism.
What makes this issue so tough is that according to a GALLUP poll about 67% of American’s report that they drink alcohol. Many of those people drink responsibility and also many of those people will eventually receive a DUI. As a Washington DUI attorney, I see most people charged with a Washington State DUI are everyday hard working people. They didn’t get stopped for driving reckless, but instead because of some small traffic infraction. Convicted or not, being arrested, losing their license and being arrested has scared them enough that they will never drinking and get behind the wheel again.
My point is that making Washington State laws tougher than they already are will not prevent horrible accidents or alcoholism. More money and energy should be put into finding these people with the problem early and helping them. I don’t have an easy solution.
I have noticed though, prosecutors and judges are pressured into being tougher on first time offenders. It means more than ever people who have been accused of a first time DUI need to seek a qualified Washington DUI attorney. Your rights are important and need to be protected.