David Hiller at Cascade says Governor Gregoire will sign SB 5326 (AKA the Vulnerable User Bill) May 16. This bill has been three years in the making, and many people whose lives were affected by negligent driving came out to give very moving testimony in favor of the bill.
From Hiller’s post on the Cascade blog:
In the end, this bill is about outcomes. Outcomes matter in Washington state in so many other instances. For instance, killing someone while driving drunk isn’t merely a DUI with a “tragic accident”, it’s vehicular manslaughter. Our laws distinguish between people’s intent, and the actual consequences that result from their actions. But because driving is such a routine activity, however dangerous, our laws were mostly scrubbed of serious penalties for causing injury or death.
The Vulnerable User Bill passed this year is substantially changed from the effort launched in 2009, when our emphasis was on restoring Seattle’s “assault by vehicle” ordinance. Not only wasn’t the idea of a patchwork of local ordinances a good idea, but there also wasn’t any stomach for criminalizing “simple negligence” of this sort in Olympia.
Penalties in the bill range from moderate to severe. One may opt to surrender their license and pay a civil fine of $5000, or one may appear in court and request the alternative penalty. Under the alternative, one would perform up to 100-hours of community service in traffic safety or driver improvement, complete a state approved traffic safety course, and pay a fine of $250.