As many of you know one of the consequences of getting arrested for a DUI in Seattle is the possibility of having an ignition interlock device required in any vehicle you drive. Thus giving you one more reason to hire an experienced DUI lawyer to try and prevent this from happening.
One of the ways of doing this is to try and get the DUI charged reduced to a lesser offense. Like a reckless driving or a negligent driving for example. However recently due to how DOL is interpreting one of the applicable statutes dealing with DUI offenses, a reduction in charges is not as beneficial as it once was.
If you get arrested for a DUI in Seattle, and it gets reduced to reckless driving by a plea deal than previously this was a pretty good deal. From previous blog posts you should know that a reckless driving does not carry the mandatory jail, the mandatory fines, the mandatory ignition interlock requirement (if it's a first offense), and the 5 years of probation. The one downside of a reckless driving conviction is it does carry a 30 day drivers license suspension, and require SR22 insurance. But compared to the possibility of a lengthier suspension and IID requirement on a DUI, it is still an excellent idea.
Additionally if an individual wanted to drive during the 30 day suspension they could apply for an occupational restricted license. This place restrictions on time, length, and places an individual could drive. But it would still allow them to get to and from work, which is very important to most people. Previously this type of restricted license did not carry an IID requirement.
But in the last few months DOL has taken it upon itself to impose an IID requirement for an occupational restricted license. Why they started this I have no idea? Probably just a way for them to somehow make more money off people, while at the same time adding to their infinite power they seem to have. I believe this is an incorrect reading of the statute, and here is why?
RCW 46.20.391 codifies the temporary restricted occupational license. States the following:
"An applicant for an occupational or temporary restricted driver's license who qualifies under subsection (1) or (2) of this section is eligible to receive such license only if: (a) Within seven years immediately preceding the date of the offense that gave rise to the present conviction or incident, the applicant has not committed vehicular homicide under RCW 46.61.520 or vehicular assault under RCW 46.61.522; and (b) The applicant demonstrates that it is necessary for him or her to operate a motor vehicle because he or she: . . . (c) The applicant files satisfactory proof of financial responsibility under chapter 46.29 RCW; and (d) Upon receipt of evidence that a holder of an occupational driver's license granted under this subsection is no longer enrolled in an apprenticeship or on-the-job training program, the director shall give written notice by first-class mail to the driver that the occupational driver's license shall be canceled."
RCW 46.20.391 (emphasis added)
So if you read the highlighted parts closely there are essentially four requirements:
- No prior conviction for vehicular assault or vehicular homicide
- Show they are employed, etc
- Files SR22 insurance
- Not enrolled in training program
In fact I pulled this off the WA DOL website
You’re not eligible if:
- You’ve been convicted of vehicular assault or vehicular homicide within the last 7 years prior to your current incident.
- Your driver license is suspended for:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI).
- Physical control (drug or alcohol-related).
- Minor in possession.
- Vehicular assault or vehicular homicide.
- Intermediate (teen) license violations.
- Too many rules of the road violations while you have an intermediate license.
- Failure to pay child support.
- Medical or vision reasons.
- Violation of court-ordered probation.
- Habitual traffic offender status.
- Failure to:
- Qualify on a medical or visual examination.
- Qualify on a driver skills examination.
- Undergo required alcohol/chemical dependency treatment.
- Violation of ORL restrictions.
- Canceled SR-22 insurance (proof of financial responsibility).
Note there is no mention you're ineligible if you have a reckless driving conviction. So how does DOL think they can to do this you ask? Well effectively they are requiring people convicted of reckless driving to apply for an ignition interlock license. But if you check out RCW 46.20.385 which codifies those requirements there is no mention of a reckless driving.
"(1)(a) Beginning January 1, 2009, any person licensed under this chapter who is convicted of a violation of RCW 46.61.502 or 46.61.504 or an equivalent local or out-of-state statute or ordinance, or a violation of RCW 46.61.520(1)(a) or46.61.522 (1)(b), or who has had or will have his or her license suspended, revoked, or denied under RCW 46.20.3101, or who is otherwise permitted under subsection (8) of this section, may submit to the department an application for an ignition interlock driver's license. The department, upon receipt of the prescribed fee and upon determining that the petitioner is eligible to receive the license, may issue an ignition interlock driver's license."
In case you don't want to look up those statutes mentioned in there take my word reckless driving is not one of them. But check out what magically appears on the DOL website
You may be issued an ORL/IIL, if your license is suspended for both of the following:
- An alcohol-related offense eligible for an IIL.
- Another offense which is eligible for an ORL.
This license allows you to drive while your license is suspended, but restricts the hours, days, and locations where you may drive.
But the problem is this magical super secret combined license is no where in any statute I can find. Essentially it is on a website that is owned by the Washington Department of Licensing. So I guess that is that.
It just bothers me that for years and years this was never the case. One of the biggest benefits of a reduction to reckless driving was no requirement of an ignition interlock device. If a person didn't want to sit out the 30 day suspension they could apply for the occupational license which did not require an IID device. That is no longer the case. It appears you must apply for both the ignition interlock license and occupational license. Pay DOL those additional fees, install the IID, and show proof of the SR22.
Bureaucracy at its best I guess!
About the author: Matthew Leyba is a Seattle DUI Attorney. His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other alcohol related offenses. He is currently rated by Avvo as a Top DUI Attorney in Seattle, and was recently named a 2013 Rising Star in the field of DUI Defense by Superlawyers Magazine. An honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys receive.