Wednesday, April 17, 2013

DUI laws about to get a whole lot tougher in Washington State

Some new legislation is being pushed through the State Capital this before the legislative session ends.  Proponents of these bills are hoping to capitalize on some horrific incidents involving drunk driving recently here in the Seattle area.  The chief proponent behind this legislation is Governor Inslee who calls these proposed bills "the most aggressive, the most ambitious change to State laws ever."  Keep in mind this is also the same guy who compared a first time DUI offender as a terrorist with a ticking time bomb in their trunk.

Here are some of the highlights of this bill

  • Automatic booking into custody after DUI arrest
  • Requirement of ignition interlock device to get vehicle out of impound after DUI arrest
  • Second offense DUI penalty is 6 months in jail
  • Third offense DUI penalty is 1 year in jail.
  • Individual accused of third DUI would be required to have special license that would not allow any alcohol to be purchased or served for 10 years
  • DUI charges to be filed within 48 hours
In case you don't know I'm a DUI lawyer in Seattle, WA.  My practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other driving related offenses.  But at the same time I am not deaf to the horrific accidents that recently took place, and I in no way condone killing or injuring another person by drinking and driving.  

But some of these charges are over the top excessive.  As it stands right now if you have never been in trouble before and for the most part cooperate with the arresting officer you will not get booked into custody.  Generally you will be released at the station or I have ever had some Seattle DUI arrest cases where my client was taken back home.  Under this legislation regardless if you have never been in trouble before you will have to spend the night in jail.  

The other proposal that I think is excessive is requiring somebody to get an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle to get it out of impound.  First of all in King County it takes 3-6 months and in some cases up to 2 years to get a DUI charge filed.  So the person is supposed to have the ignition interlock on their vehicle the entire time.  If it is not important to the Prosecutors office to file the charge, and they don't deem the individual a community safety risk then why the ignition interlock.  There area already measures in place to prevent a person from getting behind their wheel of their vehicle after a DUI arrest, and that is Hailey's law which mandates a 12 hour hold after a DUI arrest.

The real scary thing to come from these tragedies is not the toughening up in DUI laws (although that is scary) but the public backlash that has arisen.  Just take a look some of the comments in the Seattle Times.  Some of these remarks are completely nuts.  1 year in jail for a first DUI.  $30,000 fine for a first DUI.  No alcohol for life are just a few.  And that is not the scary thing, the scary thing is these are the people that compromise jury pools.  Imagine getting wrongly arrested for DUI.  Fighting your case all the way until a jury trial.  Then getting a bunch of these crazies judging your fate.  Unfortunately nowadays there is no way anyone can get a fair trial in King County on a DUI case.  Now that is scary!

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a Seattle DUI lawyer in Washington State.  He is currently rated as a Top Seattle DUI lawyer by Avvo, and was recently named a 2013 Rising Star in the area of DUI defense by Super Lawyers Magazine.  This is an honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys in Washington State receive.

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