Will Washington state make a fourth DUI in ten years a felony? Washington law makers are again considering legislation that would further toughen what are arguably already the nation’s strictest DUI laws by doing just that. If such a bill were to be presented, it would mark the third time in three years that such an attempt has been made. Currently, it takes five DUI “convictions” in ten years for an offense to be considered a felony. A conviction can be an actual conviction for DUI, a conviction for a lesser offense that began as a DUI such as Reckless Driving or Negligent Driving, as well as successful completion of what is known as a Deferred Prosecution.
Previously, similar sponsored bills had not passed based primarily on the cost that such a provision would pass on to Washington tax payers. The cost of building the extra prison alone would run into the millions. As such, a cost/benefit analysis needs to be performed. Realistically, someone convicted of a 4th offense within 10 years will likely get a year in jail. Making such an offense a felony would only add a small amount of incarceration but do so at a tremendous cost. Is it worth the extra expenditure? It seems likely that if this legislation is continuously proposed it will eventually pass. That is the reality of DUI legislation. No legislator wants to be tagged as “soft on DUI” come election time. Hopefully, as in the past two years, law makers will recognize that more prisons will be neither efficacious nor effective.