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A father’s tearful plea to pass tough new DUI laws

A drunk driver killed Sheena Blair and another friend in 2010. Her father continues working tirelessly to toughen DUI laws. (Frank Blair photo)

New proposals to toughen Washington state’s DUI laws hit home for Frank Blair. The Tacoma father has been working tirelessly ever since a drunk driver killed his daughter Sheena and another friend in 2010.

“What this law really addresses is the problem of repeat drunk drivers who know matter what you do, what sanctions there are, they’ll continue to drive drunk ,” Blair told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show Thursday.

The package proposed by Governor Jay Inslee and a bi-partisan group of lawmakers includes a mandatory six months in jail for repeat drunk driving offenders. A third offense brings a one year mandatory minimum.

The new laws would also ban three-time offenders from buying alcohol for ten years and create a treatment program that includes testing up to twice daily.

“They’re just completely, totally irresponsible and they’re killing our families and that’s one of the things this law addresses,” said Blair.

Blair spoke with Dori from Olympia, where lawmakers held hearings on the proposed new laws Thursday. And while he’s cautiously hopeful the measures will pass, he said it’s just another step in a long process.

“I think I’ll be down here every session because every law that’s passed affects a certain population of the public. We just need to keep hammering at this until there are no DUI deaths.”

The proposed bill ran into a number of questions and concerns Thursday at both the Senate and House hearings that could force backers to make some changes. The ACLU called a measure requiring all cars impounded be outfitted with ignition interlock devices unconstitutional. Tthers called it unworkable.

A number of people also called the proposals too costly for cities and counties that would have to jail far more people. And others questioned the enforceability of the 10-year ban on alcohol purchases.

Even supporters admitted following the hearing the proposals need some changes, and have scheduled an emergency meeting next week to rework them.

Meantime, the wounds remain raw for Blair. He tearfully told Dori his daughter was a daddy’s girl from the day she was born.

“When I’d mow the lawn, she’d follow behind me with the little bubble mower,” he said. “She’s gone forever. And it was preventable and we want to stop this, Dori. We’ve got to stop this.”


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