Proposed bill would make fourth-offense DUI a felony

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A new bill in the Washington state Senate would make it a felony to commit a fourth drunk-driving offense within 10 years.

Under current state law, Washington's repeat DUI offenders can be charged with felony DUI if they have already been convicted of four or more offenses within the last ten years. The bill by Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, would lower the threshold for a felony charge from fifth-offense to fourth-offense.

The measure receives a public hearing before a Senate committee Thursday morning.

Padden proposed the same change to state law last year, but the bill failed in committee over concerns about the expense of imprisoning more drunk drivers for felony convictions. Padden said Wednesday the state should build more prison space or reopen shuttered prisons to overcome that obstacle.