Rep. Harris bill to allow judges to consider harsher penalties for negligent driving signed into law

The governor signed a bill on Tuesday that allows judges to hold negligent drivers to greater accountability and give justice to vulnerable victims of accidents.

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

“This has been a long time coming and I couldn't be happier for my constituent that brought this issue to my attention,” said Harris, R-Vancouver. “It took a lot of work to get this bill here, and I'm happy that it brings a little justice to victims of negligent drivers and their families.”

HB 1112 allows judges to find people guilty of an offense when they operate 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.

“No amount of punishment is going to bring my constituent's daughter back, but it can bring him and his family some peace and a sense of justice,” added Harris. “It will also help other vulnerable victims in the future, by giving judges the option to consider and treat each case differently.”

Under this new law, a judge can punish an offender with up to 364 days of imprisonment, up to a $5,000 fine, and suspension of driving privileges for 90 days.

The bill is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2025.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov