KENNEWICK, Wash. -- A new law that took effect Aug. 1 in Washington allows State Patrol troopers and police officers to draw blood from some drunken driving suspects, even if they won't give it voluntarily.
The new legislation only applies to those who have been convicted of four DUI's in the past or have a vehicular assault or vehicular homicide on their driving record.
Lt. Mike Saunders with Washington State Patrol says this allows repeat drunken driving cases to be handled as felonies from the time of arrest. Felony DUI carries a 5-year sentence, versus 1-year for misdemeanor DUI.
"This is meant to address repeat offenders who are just not getting the message that its not ok to drive while intoxicated. We're talking about somebody with four prior convictions for DUI. This is somebody who is not learning a lesson that this isn't the right kind of behavior to have," says Saunders.
Troopers who receive appropriate training can administer the blood draws, as well as medical professionals and other trained responders.Saunders says the troopers at the Kennewick Station will refer such cases to the hospital.