New DUI law went into effect Saturday in WA

Senate Bill 5912 officially became law on Saturday at midnight. If you have followed this blog any you know the history of this bill and the major players. Initially it was touted as the toughest DUI law in the Nation. However due to costs, and support it’s teeth was eventually cut down to its current version. But make no mistake it is still makes things much tougher on DUI’s here in Washington State particularly with repeat offenders.

Here are a few of the highlights:

If you get arrested for a DUI and it’s your second one you will no longer be released. Previously in Seattle where it can take a few months to be charged with a DUI, repeat offenders would often be let go. Either released at the precinct, taken to a central location to catch a cab, or even dropped off at home. The reason was due to costs, and the ability of the King County Prosecutors to file charges within 48 hours.

However now if you get arrested and its your second time then you will spend the night in custody, and you won’t be released until you see a Judge. This means the Prosecutors office will file charges within 48 hours and you will have your arraignment. This speeds up the criminal process, ensures a suspect has potential court monitoring and alcohol monitoring conditions over them while the case is pending. Which brings me to the next major changes.

If spending the night in jail following a second DUI arrest is not enough there are two additional changes that a repeat offender will face. At your arraignment for a second offense DUI in Seattle the Judge is required to impose an ignition interlock device. Currently I would say about 75% of Judges would impose this requirement anyway. But with the change in law it is now required so it will happen 100% of the time.

The defendant will also be required to get an ignition interlock device within 5 business days of getting released. If the defendant does not show proof to the Court by that deadline then they will be required to get a SCRAM bracelet on their ankle while the case is pending. The difference in cost between an ignition interlock device and a SCRAM bracelet in Seattle is about $250 a month. However it is important to keep in mind a Judge still has the discretion to impose both the IID and SCRAM and in places like Seattle Municipal Court, Pierce County, and Snohomish County that will most likely be the case.

The other noteworthy change with this new law is the additional penalties that could be imposed if an individual is driving down the wrong way of a street and they get arrested for a DUI or if the driver has a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle to just name a few.

Getting arrested for DUI in Seattle or Washington State for that matter is no joke. But due to recent events and changes in the law getting arrested for a DUI carries more consequences and mandatory penalties than ever before. Having an experienced DUI lawyer (not just someone who started their own practice because they cant find a job or someone recently let go by the Prosecutors office due to budget cuts) is of the utmost importance. Especially in light of all the changes that now make getting a DUI on par with some felonies at least in terms of jail, fines, and other consequences.

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI Lawyer in Seattle Bellevue area. He focuses his practice on representing those charged with DUI and other traffic offenses. He has been named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers Magazine, an honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys receive. He has also been rated as one of the Top Seattle DUI lawyers by Avvo.