DUI bill and employer owned vehicle exception for IID

A few blog posts ago I wrote about the recent changes to DUI laws that were recently approved by the Washington State legislature. I would like to discuss each change, but writing about each one in a single post might be difficult since there were so many and they are all very detailed. So from this point forward I’m going to blog about each major change individually. First up the change to the employer owned vehicle exception for ignition interlock devices.

Currently RCW 46.20.385(1)(c)(i) states

The department shall require the person to maintain the device on all vehicles operated by the person and shall restrict the person to operating only vehicles equipped with the device, for the remainder of the period of suspension, revocation, or denial. The installation of an ignition interlock device is not necessary on vehicles owned, leased, or rented by a person’s employer and on those vehicles whose care and/or maintenance is the temporary responsibility of the employer, and driven at the direction of a person’s employer as a requirement of employment during working hours. The person must provide the department with a declaration pursuant to RCW 9A.72.085 from his or her employer stating that the person’s employment requires the person to operate a vehicle owned by the employer or other persons during working hours. However, when the employer’s vehicle is assigned exclusively to the restricted driver and used solely for commuting to and from employment, the employer exemption does not apply.

In other words if you are required to have a functioning ignition interlock device in any vehicle your drive as a result of a DUI and you have to drive a vehicle for work. If that vehicle is owned, leased, or rented by the employer then you may be eligible to get the ignition interlock requirement waived on that employer vehicle. Seems like a pretty good deal, huh? Especially if you have to drive for work related purposes and you would otherwise lose your job if you cannot do that. When this legislation passed a few years ago I thought it was a brilliant idea and really forward thinking by the State Legislature.

However things have changed since SB 5912. The legislation that was recently passed will impact the employer owned vehicle IID exception in the following way:

The bill adds a “waiting period” before an individual is eligible for this exception. If it is a first DUI then that waiting period is the first 30 days of the requirement. If it is a second DUI then the waiting period is the first 1 year of the requirement.

So if it is a first offense 30 days may not result in a loss of the job. I guess conceivably a person could take a vacation or if their employer is understanding might be willing to work around the requirement until the exception kicks in. However if it is a second offense or greater than you can pretty much kiss any job goodbye, unless you have an awesome employer.

The reason behind the change has to do with federal regulations and making sure Washington stays in compliance with those to access federal highway funding. Opponents of the changes expressed concerns over the changes and how it will negatively impact drivers in Washington State, but millions of dollars from the federal government will always win those arguments.

About the author: Matthew Leyba is rated as one of the best DUI Attorneys in Seattle by Avvo, and has been named a Rising Star in the field of DUI Defense by several publications including the Seattle Met Magazine, and Super Lawyers Magazine. This is an honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys in Washington State receive.