Washington lawmaker wants to end traffic ticket exemptions for legislators

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 10/11/2013

If a Washington state lawmaker gets his way, he and his comrades won’t be able to avoid traffic tickets simply because they are “working.”

Washington state’s constitution says that lawmakers “shall be privileged from arrest in all cases except treason, felony and breach of the peace” while in session. It also protects them from “any civil process” during the session and the 15 days before.

The issue gained public attention following a Sept. 15 article in The News Tribune. The article reported that the Washington State Patrol and some other law enforcement agencies do not issue tickets for moving violations to state lawmakers during a legislative session, as well as 15 days prior.

Rep. Dave Hayes, R-Camano Island, said the 1889 law is outdated and it’s time they get rid of it altogether.

“This is a law that was written back when lawmakers traveled for days across the state to reach the Capitol, sometimes on horseback,” Hayes said in a news release. “And it was intended to prevent them from being obstructed from their participation in the Legislature.”

Hayes, a Snohomish County Sheriff’s deputy, is working on a bill for the 2014 regular session that would clarify the authority of police officers to issue tickets to state lawmakers during a legislative session.

“Elected officials who make the laws should not be excluded from the laws they make.”

To view other legislative activities of interest for Washington, click here.

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