House overwhelmingly supports Rep. Jacobsen’s bill to make a fatal hit-and-run offense ineligible for a first-time offender waiver

The Washington State House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved, 96-1, a bill from Rep. Cyndy Jacobsen on Thursday that would prohibit a defendant who is convicted of a fatal hit-and-run from being eligible for a first-time offender waiver.

In the last three years, seven individuals have been granted a first-time offender waiver for hit and run resulting in a death. Those individuals were given a sentence of 90 days or less for a fatal crime.  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.

“One of my constituents brough this issue to my attention,” said Jacobsen, R-Puyallup. “Tragically, her son was killed in a hit-and-run accident, and they never found the person responsible. However, after we investigated this matter further, we discovered that even if they had caught the person, it’s possible he or she could have still walked away with almost zero punishment because of the first-time offender waiver. This legislation is aimed at bringing justice for the family members of these victims.”

Current state law allows for a defendant convicted of a felony offense to receive 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.

Additionally, there is no guarantee a first-time offender will receive any prison time. The court can impose a sentence which may include up to 90 days of confinement. However, a judge could also waive the sentence and let the person completely avoid jailtime. House Bill 1967 would ensure that a person convicted of a fatal hit-and-run would not walk away with the minimum penalty.

The legislation now heads to the Senate for further consideration.


Washington State House Republican Communications