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Proposed DUI crackdown gets pushback on multiple fronts

ignition interlock.jpg
U.S. Department of Transportation

Gov. Jay Inslee and lawmakers want to move swiftly to crack down on repeat drunk drivers. This after two recent high profile tragedies in Seattle. But on Thursday, they got some pushback from judges, prosecutors, civil libertarians and even the restaurant industry.

It’s a classic case of the devil’s in the details. Take ignition interlock devices. There’s a proposal to install them at the impound lot after a drunk driver is arrested. But the installers say that isn’t technically feasible and lawyers question whether it’s legal prior to a conviction.

Or the plan to issue three-time drunk drivers a special scarlet letter driver license and ban them from purchasing alcohol for ten years. Bruce Beckett of the Washington Restaurant Association told a panel of lawmakers that’s asking a lot of his industry.

“The only way that we see that the servers or the bartenders or whoever can comply with this is to check each and every ID for each and every patron," he said. "I just want to make clear that that’s a very monumental change.”

After several hours of testimony, House Public Safety Chair Roger Goodman acknowledged “we got a few of the details wrong.” Still he says there’s commitment to enacting the governor’s so-called “No Free Passes” DUI legislation.


Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.

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