SEATTLE, Wash. – Washington has one of the highest DUI fatality rates in the nation, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The advocacy group also gives Washington 3 out of 5 stars when it comes to keeping drunk drivers off the roads.
MADD says there were 206 DUI-related traffic deaths in Washington state in 2009, making up about 42 percent of traffic fatalities that year. Only Connecticut, Hawaii and South Carolina had higher death rates from DUI.
In addition, police stopped nearly 20,000 3-time DUI offenders and over 2,100 5-time offenders in Washington that year.
In a new nationwide report card, MADD says Washington is about average when it comes to laws that cut down on the number of drunk drivers.
“Washington has the most comprehensive ignition interlock law in the nation but could take additional steps to help save more lives,” the report says. “The state needs a better child endangerment law, legalization of sobriety checkpoints and utilization of no-refusal activities to further crack down on drunk driving.”
MADD suggests the addition of "no refusal weekends." If a suspected drunk driver were to be pulled over and refused to take a breathalyzer test, judges would be on call around the clock to immediately issue warrants to have officers take a blood draw to determine the driver’s BAC. MADD says BAC refusals often lead to dismissed cases or lesser charges.
The only states to get five stars were Arizona, Kansas, Illinois, Nebraska and Utah.