In the past legislative session, both the Washington House of Representatives and Senate have considered major amendments to Washington State DUI laws. The two have come to an agreement and all that is left is the Governor’s signature for these changes to take effect on September 1, 2011. Below is a summary of the major amendments:
- The Department of Licensing must give a day-for-day credit for the time period, beginning from the date of the incident, during which a driver keeps an ignition interlock device installed on all vehicles the person operates.
- DUI or Physical Control is a class C felony if previously been convicted of a violation of section 6 (felony) DUI or Physical Control.
- A requirement for an Ignition Interlock Device on a conviction for Reckless Driving for six months if (1) it is a reduction from DUI or Physical Control; and (2) the driver has a prior offense within the past 7 years under RCW 46.61.5055.
- A requirement for an Ignition Interlock Device for 6 months on a conviction for Reckless Driving if the case was originally filed as either Vehicular Homicide or Vehicular Assault.
- A requirement for an Ignition Interlock Device on a conviction for Negligent Driving – First Degree for six months if (1) the charge was amended from DUI or Physical Control; and (2) the driver has a prior offense under RCW 46.61.5055 within the past 7 years.
- The Court must order an Ignition Interlock Device for anyone participating in a Deferred Prosecution for a DUI or Physical Control charge. Also, the time requirement for the interlock on Deferred Prosecutions shall not be less than if it were a conviction (in other words 1 year for the first time the interlock is required, 5 years if it is the second time an interlock required, 10 years if it is the third (or more) time the interlock is required.
These amendments will have a dramatic impact on anyone accused of a Washington State DUI. Bear in mind that they will not become effective until the beginning of September and only if Governor Gregoire signs the bill into law. Given the complex and constantly changing laws surrounding DUI in our state, anyone accused of Washington State DUI or Physical Control should immediately consult with an attorney with experience and knowledge in the field.