Here is “the latest” in WA DUI law changes:
Don't get too happy over the 3 ‘good' new changes in this bill until you read to the end and learn about the companion House Bill 2280.
As discussed in more detail in NWSidebar's August 5th 2016 issue, viewable online at: https://nwsidebar.wsba.org/2016/08/05/4-important-changes-to-washington-dui-laws/, new laws became effective June 9, 2016 and codified in House Bill 2700, first introduced in January 2016 (more formally cited as: HB 2700 - 2015-16, “Concerning impaired driving”), include these 4 major changes:
1. An additional, new Sentencing Alternative for First-time Offenders. House Bill 2700 provides a new and different sentencing alternative for first-time, low blow (under 0.15 BAC or blood alcohol). Before this new House bill, first time DUI convictions with 'blow's (or blood draws) for alcohol measured at 0.14 or under, the only choice available to those found guilty of a DUI-first-time-low-blow, besides one day in jail, was 15 days electronic home detention (“aka “EHM” or “EHD”) with an annoying ankle bracelet and sometimes with an alco-sensor to blow in when it randomly goes off at your home. Under this new bill someone found guilty of such a DUI (by plea or at trial) can be sentenced to an alcohol monitoring program (aka “sobriety program”) for 90 days, and it's 24/7. The old alternative of 15 days EHM can also still be requested instead.
2. Ignition Interlock Device (“IID”) Employer Waiver. Before HB 2700 went into effect 3 months ago, those who used their or their employers' work vehicles as part of their jobs were entitled to a work vehicle exception – after a waiting period. That exception was however not available until after a 30-365 day waiting period depending on the individual case and driving record. HB 2700 eliminated the former mandatory waiting periods allowing for work vehicle IID requirements to be waived. The waiting period is now gone.
3. A New Way to Avoid Driver's License Suspension for First-Time Offenders. This new change applies whether it's just an arrest for DUI, an arrest and a DUI charge, or an arrest and a conviction of DUI. If the driver gets into a 24/7 sobriety monitoring program for a period of time determined by their “blow” – the breath test results (or blood), the DOL will hold off on suspending their driver's license – but only if the person didn't refuse to blow (i.e., not for so-called “refusals”).
4. DOL Hearing Request Deadline Changes for Administrative DUI-stops. The Department of Licensing's deadline for requesting a hearing after the date of the stop used to be 30 days. Now it is 20 days and has been for many years. The DOL has to give you a telephonic DOL administrative hearing resulting from the DUI stop within 60 days after that stop. Under House Bill 2700, requesting a hearing to try to prevent the DOL's administrative license suspension action (which happens automatically just from the DUI stop, even if you are never charged or beat the charge by motion or are acquitted at trial) will have to be requested much quicker, within 7 days after January 1, 2019. I almost always advise clients to challenge the suspension by requesting a hearing (and paying $375 to DOL for the hearing request fee)
HB 2700 – A Summing up: So this new house bill, HB 2700, which started out only trying to make the DUI laws in Washington State tougher actually has a few ease-ups for drivers stopped for DUI. But there is a much shorter DOL hearing request window after January 2019, as stated. There is more to it than that, though, of course. If you have been stopped for a DUI, you should immediately and before you agree to an IID or do anything else, contact an experienced Seattle and Washington state DUI attorney, who knows how the system works, and how the various DOL hearing officers and judges approach their cases (they vary quite a bit in applying the same rules). I offer a free initial consultation and evaluation. Don't wait to ‘lawyer up'. A DUI, even a first-time DUI, can have devastating effects upon your life and employment opportunities. Take action and call an experienced DUI lawyer. I've been defending people accused with Washington State DUI's since 1989.
Stay tuned, folks: My next blog will discuss in some detail another, related new law, House Bill 2280, which now makes felony DUI's no longer Class C felonies - but Class B felonies, carrying way more jail time (actually prison time in most cases) and fines – raising the felony DUI maximum from 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine to 10 years' prison time and $20,000 fine! It is very, very tough new change in our state's DUI laws for anyone getting a felony DUI. I shall also review my notes on Felony-DUI in my DUI FAQ, and will explain again what makes a DUI a felony DUI and how this harsh new HB 2800 is going to ruin many felony DUI defendants'' lives. HB 2280 was signed by Governor Jay Inslee, our 23rd governor, on March 31, 2016 and went into effect on June 9, 2016, just like HB 2700. It's clearly getting tougher out there, people – for you if you get charged, and tougher for criminal defense lawyers trying to defend and protect you. So, please be aware of HB 2280 - 2015-16 “Making felony driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana, or any drug a class B felony.”
For more information, see:
http://app.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=2700&year=2015 (HB 2700 itself)
http://app.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=2280&year=2015 (HB 2280 itself)
(Seattle Times, “Gov. Inslee approves harsher DUI penalties,” originally published March 31, 2016 and Updated April 1, 2016, and from The Associated Press).
http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2016/mar/31/harsher-dui-penalties-get-washington-gov-inslees-s/ The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, but from The AP) “Harsher DUI penalties get Washington Gov. Inslee's signature,” March 31, 2016 (the day ‘the Gov.' signed these 2 new tougher bills), which says:
OLYMPIA – Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has signed a bill that will double the maximum fine and prison sentence for a felony-level driving under the influence conviction.
Inslee signed House Bill 2280 on Thursday, which will make those guilty of felony DUI, at most, spend 10 years in prison and pay a $20,000 fine.
Under existing law, a felony DUI is a Class C felony, punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and a $10,000 penalty. A person's fifth DUI within 10 years is a felony, but the first four are gross misdemeanors. A DUI for someone previously convicted of vehicular assault or vehicular homicide while intoxicated is also a felony-level offense.
AND MY PERSONAL FAVORITE:
http://www.governor.wa.gov/news-media/governor-jay-inslee-and-bipartisan-group-legislators-urge-tougher-dui-laws (Our Governor's own official website.) There, ‘the Gov.' (perhaps not thinking our state's already one of the toughest-in-the-nation, up there with AZ, FL, CA and IL, DUI laws aren't bad enough yet for those accused), states:
“There are no more free passes for those who choose to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”
“Every accident and every death we see involving a DUI could have been prevented,” said Inslee. “People who choose to get behind the wheel must know that we are done giving them a free pass.”
You'll also find the comments there of the moving force behind these new bills, Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland), who heads the state's Impaired Driving Work Group, including: “We've worked hard to strengthen our DUI laws and with some success, reducing alcohol-related deaths and injuries on the roadways by more than 35%. The recent tragedies remind us that we have more work to do, so we need even tougher and smarter laws, especially to stop repeat offender s...”
What's next? Who knows, but please don't drink and drive in Central America. No DOL hearings to apply for or Ignition Interlock device requirements there – just the firing squad! See: http://www.charlottecountyduilawyers.com/2012/11/worst-dui-laws-around-the-world/.
Thanks for reading my blog.