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Delegates urge tougher penalties for DUI injuries

Two delegates have reached across the aisle to propose a broader and tougher range of penalties for those who cause serious injuries by driving while intoxicated.

Currently, when a DWI accident causes permanent and significant physical impairment, the defendant driver can be charged with a Class 6 felony. House Bill 1941 would increase the level to Class 4. The potential penalty would go from 5 to 10 years in prison, and the possible fine would increase from up to $2,500 to $100,000.

In addition, Dels. Robert Bell, a Republican, and Mike Mullin, a Democrat, propose adding Class 4 felony penalties for causing “serious bodily injury” through reckless DWI driving, regardless of whether significant impairment results. The statute in question currently does not provide a penalty for bodily injury without impairment.

Both categories of felony would require driving in a “reckless” manner while intoxicated.

A leader of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program tells the Daily News-Record (paywall) the group supports any move towards “meaningful penalties for those driving under the influence.”

The legislation is before the House Courts Committee.