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DUI bill co-sponsored by Hurst and Dahlquist signed into law

Gov. Chris Gregoire signs House Bill 2216 April 6, which was co-sponsored by Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Greenwater, Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw and supported by 31st District Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn. - Courtesy photo
Gov. Chris Gregoire signs House Bill 2216 April 6, which was co-sponsored by Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Greenwater, Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw and supported by 31st District Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

While Olympia legislators tie themselves in knots over the budget, two 31st District legislators from opposite sides of the aisle co-sponsored a new law increasing the sentences for DUI vehicular homicide.

The measure, House Bill 2216, was co-sponsored by Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Greenwater, Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw and supported by 31st District Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn.

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the bill into law Friday, April 6.

"This one was very important," Hurst said. "It triples the sentence. Before this bill (a drunk driver) could kill someone and be out in 18 months. That is a travesty of justice. Is that the value of human life?"

Dalquist said she gives Hurst the credit for the bill.

"It is one of the right things to do," Dahlqusit said."Many people have been affected by drunk drivers. It is a devastating tragedy to a family."

Hurst, a veteran Black Diamond police detective, introduced the bill after witnessing drunk driving accidents throughout his 25 year career.

"I've seen people killed by drunk drivers as a police officer," Hurst said. "And I have had to deal with the grief of the family."

Under the new law, those found guilty will face 78 to 102 months behind bars, equivalent to the penalty for first-degree manslaughter.

In addition to countless families of victims testifying in favor of the bill, Tom McBride, with the

Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, also expressed his support for the increased sentences.

"Driving drunk and causing the accident that kills another person is, in every sense of the word, criminally reckless,” said McBride. “Drunk driving vehicular homicide should be treated as seriously as manslaughter, another recklessness based crime, which is what this law does."

Prosecuting attorneys across the state advocated for an increase in sentences for DUI vehicular homicide, including King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg and Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.

"This increased penalty will feel more like justice to victim's families, friends and the community,"

Lindquist said. "Furthermore, this legislation is part of a larger effort to send a message that we don't tolerate drunk driving in Washington."

The bill goes into effect 90 days after the legislative session adjourns on March 8, and those convicted after that date will face longer sentences behind bars.

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