Should there be alternatives for pretrial ignition interlock conditions in DUI cases?

If you have been arrested for a DUI in the Seattle area then you face the possibility of a Judge imposing pretrial conditions at your arraignment.  This means the Judge has the authority to require a defendant to follow certain conditions while the case is pending.  Typically on DUI cases this involves no drinking and driving, no driving without a valid license and insurance, and no refusal of a breath test.  However in some cases a Judge can require a defendant to post bail or install an ignition interlock device until there is a resolution in the DUI.

In Seattle for example if you have a DUI arraignment in the Seattle Municipal Court then there is probably a very good chance you might be required to install an ignition interlock device even on a first offense DUI.  This is just how they roll down there nowadays.  If you don’t have a car, or the means to get an ignition interlock device installed then you can sign a declaration under penalty of perjury that you will not drive a motor vehicle.  If you get caught driving a motor vehicle after you have signed this declaration then chances are you will go to jail unless you can come up with a significant bail amount.

I recently read an article in the Seattle Times about this very issue.  The gist of the article was how Washington State lawmakers are proposing a bill that would allow drivers facing DUI charges to avoid a mandatory pretrial condition of ignition interlock by swearing they won’t drive.  It sounds like this is modeled after what the Seattle Municipal Court has been doing for years.

To be honest I’m surprised something like this is being proposed, however I think it is an excellent idea and I hope it passes.  Often times people cannot come up with the money for an ignition interlock device or they don’t own a car.  In those situations Prosecutors will ask the Judge to have the driver sit in jail while the case is going on or make them come up with the money for electronic home monitoring.  As a practicing Seattle DUI Attorney I think these current alternative options are just ludicrous.

Look I get it.  There really is no way to ensure a person is not going to drive again by signing a declaration.  In today’s day and age it is fairly easy to get your hands on a car.  Either from a friend, family member, etc.  But there has to be an alternative options for those individuals that cannot get an ignition interlock device.  Jail is too expensive for the tax payers, and too over populated with more serious offenses.  I hope this bill is considered to provide alternative options for individuals in this situation.

If you’re interested in reading the article and checking out the proposed bill, here you go.

About the author:  Matthew Leyba is a DUI Attorney in Seattle, WA.  He is the firm owner of Leyba Defense PLLC, a criminal defense law firm focusing on DUI defense in the Puget Sound area.