A chapter in Washington and Seattle's DUI history ended last week in a Seattle courtroom. Mark Mullan received an 18-year prison sentence after running over a family in March in broad daylight, killing a man and his wife and injuring an infant and his mother. Mullan was on probation for his fifth DUI conviction, was three times over the legal BAC limit at the time, and failed to install and ignition interlock switch on his vehicle.
We can probably all agree that given the unique circumstances in this case, Mullan deserved a lengthy prison sentence for his actions. But as usual, Washington lawmakers overreacted by passing laws which cover a much broader range of drinking and driving offenses following the single incident. This one individual has caused changes for all of us regardless of your history.
Measures signed into law by Governor Inslee in July included stiffer penalties for people who are arrested (not convicted) of a second DUI, which include being booked into jail immediately, charged within three days of arrest, and forced to put an ignition interlock device on their vehicle within five days of charges being filed. Deferred sentencing in these cases has also been restricted. In addition, a few municipalities in Washington will begin pilot programs on January 1 that permit 24/7 electronic monitoring of repeat DUI offenders.
Even though the chapter may be finished, the story is far from over. Many lawmakers have indicated that they will push for even tougher drinking and driving laws in the near future. Some of the provisions which were suggested this year but weren't approved include banning alcohol purchases for three-time DUI offenders and mandatory ten-day sentences for repeat DUI offenders.
This illustrates yet another point: that for some, drunk driving laws will never go far enough.