Washington lawmaker pushes checkpoints to cut DUI carnage
Last week, a Port Orchard man was arrested for drunk driving for the 13th time.
It’s a shocking case for many of us, but not for state Representative Roger Goodman. While he says this case is an example of the extreme, he believes the state needs to do a much better job tracking repeat drunk drivers and pushing for tougher drunk driving laws.
The Democrat from Kirkland pushed hard last session to increase penalties and toughen the state’s drunk driving laws. Goodman plans to continue that when the Legislature gets together in January.
One of the proposals he will be introducing is the creation of sobriety checkpoints. They would require every driver to stop and be checked for alcohol, “To set up a system in known corridors, mostly on Friday and Saturday nights, we would have law enforcement pulling people over.”
Right now, these checkpoints aren’t allowed under the Washington Constitution.
“Our courts in Washington have prohibited these sobriety checkpoints where law enforcement would pull over law abiding people as well drunk drivers,” said Goodman. “That’s considered too much of an invasion of privacy.”
Representative Goodman said Washington is one of just 11 states that don’t allow the police to set up checkpoints.
“The states that have sobriety checkpoints have been able to reduce deaths and injuries due to drunk driving by 25 or 30 percent,” he said. “That’s significant reduction of carnage on the roadways from drunk driving.”
But Goodman said that he knows getting over the constitutional challenge will be difficult.
“We’re going to have to work hard on this to see if it is possible – constitutionally and even politically – whether the people will be comfortable with this notion of having law enforcement on the side of the road on some of these more dangerous corridors over the weekends,” said Goodman.
The checkpoint idea will just be one of the proposals Goodman will be raising next session.
Longer prison time and other increased penalties will also be discussed.