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CHANGES TO WASHINGTON’S DUI LAWS

EFFECTIVE AUGUST 1, 2012

Following the unanimous approval of the Washington House and Senate, Governor Christine Gregoire signed Second Substitute House Bill 2443, which by amendment to several statutes, effectively imposes greater sanctions and costs for Driving Under the Influence in the State of Washington.

Below is a listing of some of the applicable statutory amendments and their impact to those convicted under Washington’s DUI laws.

RCW 38.52.430 – Emergency response caused by person’s intoxication – Recovery of Costs from convicted person. The amendment will provide authority to the courts to increase the assessed expenses related to emergency response from it’s current $1,000.00 limitation to a maximum of up to $2,500.00. These related expenses are assessed to individuals found guilty or have had their prosecution deferred for driving under the influence or operating a vessel or aircraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Proof of such expense remains the obligation of the prosecuting attorney’s office and may be subject to an evidentiary hearing.

RCW 46.20.385 – Ignition interlock driver’s license. After January 1, 2009, persons licensed in Washington that were convicted of a driving or being in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence or alternatively effected by the Implied Consent Law, would be subject to suspension or revocation of their driving privileges for a minimum of 90 days. The Legislature created laws that allowed such individuals to apply for an Ignition Interlock License (IIL). The IIL would permit drivers to continue to drive under a probationary license subject to strict limitation. To obtain the Ignition Interlock License (IIL), one was required to (1) pay a fee for the license, (2) provide proof of financial responsibility and (3) install an ignition interlock device (IID). The ignition interlock device is equipment installed in a vehicle and monitors the driver’s alcohol consumption before and during driving. In the event alcohol was detected by the equipment the vehicle would either not start or shut the engine off.

Limitation to employment related vehicles. Under the current law installation of the IID was not required on vehicles rented, leased or owned by a person’s employer and was driven as part of employment during working hours. The amendment to this law will eliminate the employer owned/leased/rented exception whenever the employer’s vehicle is (a) assigned exclusively to the restricted driver, and (b) is used solely for commuting to and from employment.

Application for Ignition Interlock License. In what this writer consider’s an improvement to this statute is the allowance under the law to permit a person who does not have a driver’s license, but is otherwise eligible to apply for an ignition interlock license, may submit an application for the IIL. The application for the IIL will still be subject to conditions imposed by the Department of Licensing. Under the current law an person who does not have a valid license was ineligible for the IIL, and would have to sit out the full length of the suspension, revocation or denial.

Monthly fee to Department of Licensing. The amendments have also found a means of generating additional revenue for the Department of Licensing. Effective August 1, 2012, each person that has an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle will be required to pay $20.00 per month, (which is in addition to the installation, removal and rental fees already paid to lease such equipment from commercial outlets), directly to the ignition interlock company which will be required to forward the funds to the Department of Licensing ignition interlock device revolving fund. This fund is used in covering the monetary costs of installing, removing and leasing an IID, and applicable licensing for indigent persons and for monitoring compliance by persons required to use IID.

RCW 46.61.5249 – Negligent Driving in the First Degree. Currently this offense is defined as the exhibiting of having consumed alcohol. With the amendment the Legislature expands the definition of this offense to include exhibiting the effects of having inhaled or ingested any chemical for its intoxicating or hallucinatory effects. The inhalants or chemicals include both legal and illegal substances.

RCW 46.61.5055(14)(a). Alcohol violators – Penalty. The August 1, 2012 amendment will expand the definition of a Aprior offense@ to include deferred prosecutions granted in other states for driving under the influence intoxicating liquor or physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug offenseprovided the other state’s prosecution is equivalent to Washington state’s deferred prosecution as defined under RCW 10.05, which would include participation in a chemical dependency treatment program.

Washington laws relating to driving under the influence and related offenses continue to be some of the strictest laws in the United States. The sanctions and costs continue to rise as our State’s legislators continued to implement regulations to deter the operation of vehicles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

If you are charged with an alcohol related driving offense it is critical for you to consult with an attorney experienced in defending DUI charges. Under Washington laws alcohol related driving offenses range from felony to misdemeanor criminal offenses. The complexity and ever changing nature of the laws associated with such offenses require an experienced defense attorney who focuses on the defense of such matters. The impacts of an alcohol related conviction can have long term, if not life time, negative consequences. The attorneys at the Law Office of John J. Lutgens have been protecting the rights and defending clients charged with alcohol related offenses for over twenty years. If you have been charged with DUI, Physical Control, Reckless Driving, or Negligent Driving, call to speak with our attorneys for a free consultation. We represent clients throughout Southwest Washington, including Clark, Cowlitz, and Skamania Counties, and the cities of Vancouver, Battle Ground, Ridgefield, La Center, Camas, Washougal, Stevenson, Longview, Kelso and Kalama.

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