DUI laws are often evolving, with frequent legislative changes that may affect sentencing and licensing. NWSidebar describes 4 important changes to Washington DUI laws. These changes stem from the implementation of House Bill 2700, which went into effect on June 9, 2016.
1) Sentencing Alternative:
Under House Bill 2700, a 24/7 alcohol monitoring program is available as an alternative to jail time. Previously, a first-time DUI offender with a breath test under .15 faced a mandatory minimum of one day in jail. They could request the judge to convert one day of jail time to 15 days of electronic home monitoring There is now a third option available which allows flexibility for individuals who may be unable to face jail time or home monitoring because or family or work commitments. Rather than one day in jail or 15 days of electronic home monitoring, the individual may opt for 90 days in the 24/7 alcohol monitoring program.
2) Ignition Interlock Employer Waiver:
Ignition interlock device requirements have been problematic for individuals who drive for work. Previously, if someone was required to have an ignition interlock device on their vehicle, they could get an exception for a work vehicle. However, this was only possible following a mandatory waiting period, ranging from 30-365 days. Under House Bill 2700, the mandatory waiting period is eliminated. Individuals required to have an ignition interlock device can be granted an exception for driving as a condition of employment, with no waiting period required.
3) Avoiding License Suspension:
Under House Bill 2700, there is a path to avoiding license suspension for individuals who are arrested or convicted of a first-time DUI. If the individual enrolls and completes a 24/7 sobriety program, the Department of Licensing will hold off on suspending their driver’s license. The length of time they will hold off is depending upon breath test results.
4) DOL Hearings:
Department of Licensing deadlines are tightening. This portion of the bill does not go into effect until Jan 1, 2019, when the deadline for requesting an administrative hearing will be shortened to 7 days. The Department’s deadline for holding the hearing will be within 30 days. This is a shift from the current deadlines, in which arrested persons must request a hearing within 20 days and the hearing must be held within 60. This shift may have a significant impact on individuals missing the quick deadline, especially if they do not immediately consult with or hire an attorney.
With evolving DUI laws, it is essential that you connect with a knowledgeable DUI attorney to advise you and advocate for your best interests. These are significant charges and you should not try to tackle them without experienced counsel to advise you appropriately and advocate on your behalf.