Thursday, May 15, 2014

New definition of what constitutes a "prior offense" for DUI sentencing purposes in WA

Last month a major DUI law was changed in Washington State when it comes to DUI sentencing.  The bill responsible SB 6413 drastically alters what can be considered a "prior offense" when it comes to DUI sentencing.  Prior to this change the law was pretty clear.  Now not so much in opinion despite what the bill set out to accomplish.

As I stated prior to this law if you were arrested for a DUI then your sentence for the most part was determined based on the number of "prior offenses" you had.  For example lets say you were arrested for a DUI in Seattle in 2008.  That DUI charged was reduced to Negligent Driving 1.  You then were arrested for a DUI in 2010.  The DUI in 2010 would be considered a second offense DUI because the first case originally was a DUI then it got reduced. 

Essentially if you got arrested for a DUI and that charged was reduced to another criminal offense then it was considered a prior offense.  Pretty straight forward, right.  Well SB 6413 changes all of this.  Now a prior offense can include any of the following: driving a commercial vehicle while under the influence, a BUI, operating an aircraft while under the influence, operating an off road vehicle while under the influence, and my favorite operating a snowmobile while under the influence.  

As a DUI Lawyer in Seattle, I have to say I do not understand what this accomplishes.  All of these offenses do not carry any of the consequences a DUI does other than being a criminal charge.  So why are they treated the same as a DUI when it comes to sentencing.  Why not stop there?  Why not include any alcohol related offense?  A minor in possession of alcohol, or an open container?  Obviously I am being factious, but you get my point. 

Unfortunately the DUI laws just happened to get a lot tougher in Washington State and this new law only shows how difficult things are becoming.  

About the author:  Matthew Leyba is a DUI Lawyer in Seattle, WA.  He is the firm owner of Leyba Defense PLLC a DUI law firm located in the heart of downtown Seattle.  He practice focuses on representing those charged with DUI and DUI related offenses.    

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