Rep. Jacobsen’s effort to hold felony hit-and-run offenders more accountable unanimously clears committee

The Community Safety, Justice, and Reentry Committee voted in favor of a bill from Rep. Cyndy Jacobsen on Tuesday. The committee unanimously approved House Bill 1967, which would prohibit a defendant who is convicted of a fatal hit-and-run from being eligible for a first-time offender waiver.

“Seven individuals have been granted a first-time offender waiver for hit and run resulting in a death over the last three years. That’s not okay,” said Jacobsen, R-Puyallup. “Fleeing the scene of an accident is a serious offense, especially if the accident is fatal.

“l introduced this bill because under current law, a person who leaves the scene of a fatal accident could be free after serving a maximum of just 90 days if he or she is a first-time offender. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Anyone who takes a life and flees the scene, needs to be held accountable for his or her actions.”

Currently, a defendant convicted of a felony offense may be eligible for a first-time offender waiver under certain conditions. The defendant could qualify for the waiver if he or she has never been convicted of a felony, or participated in a deferred prosecution for a felony, and the current conviction is not for:

  • A violent offense.
  • A sex offense.
  • The manufacture, delivery, or sale of certain controlled substances.
  • A felony driving under the influence or physical control offense.

If House Bill 1967 were to become law, a hit-and-run resulting in someone’s death would be added to the list of felony offenses that are ineligible for a first-time offender waiver.

“Accidents happen, but when a person decides to leave the scene, that accident becomes a crime,” said Jacobsen. “Anyone who makes a conscious decision to leave an accident scene when someone is dead or dying, should not be eligible for a first-time offense waiver.”

According to current state statute, the court can impose a sentence which may include up to 90 days of confinement in a facility operated or utilized under contract by the county and a requirement that the offender refrain from committing new offenses. However, a judge could also waive the sentence and let the person completely avoid jailtime.

The bill will now wait to be considered and voted on by the entire House.


Washington State House Republican Communications