In Washington, people can be charged with a felony for driving under the influence alcohol if they have four or more similar offenses on their record within the previous 10 years. Although any drunk driving conviction carries serious consequences, the stakes are significantly higher when a felony is involved. For example, the abilities to vote or own a firearm are generally revoked.
For the second year in a row, the Washington legislature will be considering a change to the current felony DUI statutes. Lawmakers on the Senate Law & Justice Committee will be looking at the feasibility of a proposal to reduce the requirements for a drunk driving offense to be considered a felony.
According to the Associated Press, the legislature took up a similar issue last year, but it was ultimately defeated as the result of fiscal concerns. At this point, there is no approximation of what this year's proposal would cost. Estimates from last year, which accounted for lowering the felony DUI threshold to three or four convictions, suggested that a new prison would probably be necessary.
Of course, dealing with a felony charge is something that should never be taken lightly. Those who face this kind of charge may want to explore all available legal options in order to work toward a fair outcome.
Many people who are subject to multiple DUI charges might also be dealing with alcohol-dependency issues. As a result, considering outcomes that are focused on rehabilitation, as opposed to purely punitive, might be in the interests of public safety and the well being of the defendant.
Source: The Associated Press, "Senate panel weighs new felony DUI bill," Rachel La Corte, Jan. 20, 2014