Harris bill to protect victims of negligent driving is one step closer to becoming law

A bill from Rep. Paul Harris designed to hold negligent drivers to greater accountability was unanimously passed by the Senate Wednesday.

House Bill 1112 would allow judges, at their discretion, to impose criminal penalties for negligent driving involving the death of a vulnerable victim. It would also create a gross misdemeanor offense of negligent driving with a vulnerable victim in the first degree.

“I’m so pleased to see this bill finally get over the hump,” said Harris, R-Vancouver. “I’ve been working on this legislation since the beginning of last session, trying to bring a little justice to one of my constituents. Despite support from both sides, it fell short last year, but we didn’t give up, and now we are that much closer to making this a reality.”

HB 1112 would allow for a person to be found guilty of an offense when he or she operates a vehicle in a manner that is both negligent and endangers, or is likely to endanger, any person or property and causes the death of someone using a public way.

“This bill can’t bring my constituent’s daughter back, but it can bring some justice to him and other victims in the future, especially those who survive an accident,” added Harris. “Judges need the discretion to treat each case differently, and this bill would make that possible.”

The offense would be punishable by up to 364 days of imprisonment, a $5,000 fine, which may not be reduced below $1,000, and suspension of driving privileges for 90 days.

Because the Senate amended HB 1112, the House must approve the changes before it heads to the governor’s desk.

The 2023 legislative session is scheduled to end on Sunday, April 23.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov