The House Public Safety Committee voted 10-1 on Wednesday to pass a bill that strengthens the state’s drunk driving laws. The vote advances the bill to the House’s fiscal committee, where lawmakers hope to get a better idea of what the legislation will cost.
Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, cast the sole dissenting vote. She says lawmakers are still waiting for updated figures that show how much it will cost to implement the legislation.
Cities and counties are already on the “brink” because of budget cutbacks, Appleton said, and the Kitsap County Jail is so overcrowded they’re releasing inmates.
“I’m not convinced there’s enough money enough for this,” she said. “Until I am, I can’t support it.”
Committee chair Rep. Roger Goodman said the bill needs to move forward so that the fiscal committee can find a way to fund it. “We’re not going to prevent every tragedy, but this is a good step forward,” he said.
The bill targets repeat DUI offenders by making their fourth conviction a felony offense. On the second offense and beyond, people will be required to submit to some form of alcohol monitoring or face jail time.
“I see victims in the audience and they’re watching us,” Goodman said before voting.
The bill now moves to the House Appropriations Committee. Last week, the Senate voted to advance the companion DUI bill to that chamber’s fiscal committee.
Today is the 10th day of the 30-day special session.