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Published on Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Governor and Legislators introduce new DUI legislation

In response to recent tragic incidents involving drunk drivers, the Governor and key Legislators introduced new legislation this week aimed at getting tough with impaired drivers. The bills, HB 2030 and its companion SB 5912, are scheduled for hearings on April 18 in the House Public Safety Committee and Senate Law & Justice Committee respectively. The bills were discussed at a joint press conference led by Governor Inslee. Additionally, another bill, SB 5902, introduced by Senators Padden and Kline also establishes similar new DUI restrictions and is being heard at the same time.

The proposals are complex addressing many different provisions of the law. Some of the key features of HB 2030/SB 5912 include:

  • Requires an officer to arrest and take into custody any individual without a warrant if they believe the individual has violated DUI laws and has a prior offenses for DUI.
  • When a driver has been arrested and has their vehicle impounded for a DUI, the vehicle must be fitted with an ignition interlock device before it can be redeemed from impound. The ignition interlock device must remain in the vehicle until the case has been resolved.
  • Changes sentencing requirements in felony cases to count additional prior offenses.
  • Changes sentencing requirements for first time offenses so that at least 48 hours may not be suspended or deferred if the offender had a BAC of at least .15 or if they refused to take the test. (the pro se legal limit for DUI is BAC of .08)
  • A person who has been convicted of a prior DUI offense within 7 years and has a BAC of .15 or refused to take the BAC must be sentenced to 6 months in jail and 90 days of electronic home monitoring or to six months in a community-based treatment program along with the 24/7 sobriety monitoring program.
  • If a person has been convicted of two or three offenses and has a BAC of .15 or greater or they have been convicted of four or more offenses in a ten year period then they are prohibited from purchasing alcohol for ten years. DOL will issue them a vertical license like juvenile drivers.
  • Allows a judge to impose a greater sentence for wrong-way drivers.
  • Allows cities to establish DUI courts.
  • Prohibits courts from deferring sentences for DUI.
  • Adds an additional $100 fine for certain offenses that goes to the city or county for traffic safety enhancement purposes.
  • Adds marijuana and THC to the statutes dealing with DUI.
  • Establishes a statewide 24/7 Sobriety Program developed and administered by the Attorney General effective January 1, 2015. The 24/7 Program would likely include regular check-ins, drug testing, and other monitoring for offenders. The program is intended to be self-supporting through fees assessed on the participants.

Cities have been supportive of attempts to strengthen DUI laws. However, cities have expressed concerns about the additional costs created by these proposals. AWC will be communicating with the Governor’s office and legislators about the need to provide adequate funding to offset the increased costs.

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