This morning I attended Rep Roger Goodman’s DUI working group. This meeting was VERY well attended. Prosecutors, judges, Interlock device companies, law enforcement, defense lobbyists, county/city advocates, treatment representatives, victim families and LOTS of TV cameras.
The main topic of discussion was HB 1482, stalled in the House rules committee. There was an update, a summery and we also learned that Governor Inslee was going to meet with the respective caucuses to encourage it’s movement.
GOOD for you Jay!
We also discussed felony DUI and the associated costs of putting these potential killers in prison. Estimates of from 150-200 million dollars to jail them all. it would be necessary to build a new prison to house 1200 (at 3 DUIs) or 800 (at 4 DUIs). That’s a LOT. We also talked about jailing DUIs for 12-72 hours after arrest or until their hearing. THAT also costs money………..We talked about a lot of other issues MOST of the time with a news camera pointed at our face. ALL of the media outlets used this quote from a comment I made:” But Frank Blair, whose 24-year-old daughter Sheena was killed by a drunken driver in 2010, said that costs can’t measure loss.”“At some point these people need to be removed from society because they kill us,” he told the group.
I overheard Deputy Prosecutor Amy Freedheim tell a news crew that it is unfortunate that it takes two horrible DUI murders in a week to draw attention to this issue and revive a bill which if enacted would go a long way to addressing these issues. I agree Amy. So now the bill has the VERY strong support of the Governor and massive support among voters. But at what cost………
After these meetings and four media interviews, I do as I always do when I’m in Olympia. I walk through the Capitol building and gaze with AWE at the beauty of that building. I was on my way to do just that when I encountered one of the judges who always attends the working group. We had a little talk in those marbled halls. I mentioned how much I have learned from them, about the practical application of laws we discuss and what IS and, of course what is NOT constitutional. What is helpful and what does NOT work and what is burdensome . I now have a better idea of what to support and what to NOT support. (LOL!!) Because of their position, there are things they can NOT talk/ask about. I try to sit next to them because, like today, they will lean over and say “Frank ask about this, or Frank, say that”. I told him that it can get frustrating and discouraging doing this work especially after a week like this. He told me try my best to not get discouraged, jaded, disgusted or numb. he said the MOST important thing is to keep coming back, to keep moving forward. To NOT lose sight of why we are doing this stuff, and that we ARE making progress. I am not at liberty to share his name here because I don’t have his permission and I do NOT want to risk getting him in trouble. He did more in that ten minutes to inspire us to keep moving forward than he’ll ever know.
Apparently it takes three dead, innocent people and two horrendously injured people in a week to draw attention to this DUI bill and HOPEFULLY move it forward. I KNOW what these people are going through right now. My heart absolutely breaks for them. Their agony inspires us and maybe pisses us off enough to accomplish something that MAY help stop DUI murders. It’s a HELL of a high price. NOBODY is more aware of that price than us. Bless the Schulte and Williams families and ALL that went before and those (I PRAY) less that will inevitably, sadly follow.