SEATTLE — While legislators in Olympia haggled over ways to close the budget shortfall, they agreed on at least one thing, unanimously passing a bill cracking down on people driving under the influence.
“You can't always stop people from being, becoming impaired, but this is a way to stop them from getting behind the wheel and driving,” said Amy Freedheim of the King County Prosecutor's Office.
The legislation expanded DUI laws to include huffing, the act of inhaling chemicals to get high. It would also make it tougher to fool an ignition Breathalyzer.
The new law could force offenders to pay for cameras that prove they're the ones taking the test instead of a sober friend or family member.
“The fixes the Legislature is doing strengthen our impaired driving laws, making our streets safer,” Freedheim said.
Advocates for stronger DUI laws applaud the bill.
Fifteen-year-old Kelsey Parret was killed in 2010 while walking on the shoulder of a road in Pierce County. Court documents say the driver appeared drunk. The suspect pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide, and was sentenced to four years in prison.
“Your child is taken away forever, and he'll go to jail for two years. Doesn't seem fair,” said Amy Glassburn, the victim's mother.
Parents and legislators hope these new laws will give him and other offenders pause before possibly re-offending.
“I'm glad that they're working on it, and that they're working so hard,” said Glassburn.
Kelsey's parents think tougher sentencing guidelines are the next step to prevent DUIs, but say this new bill is driving home the point: drunk driving won't be taken lightly.
The new legislation has been delivered to the governor's office. The bill's supporters say she is expected to sign it.