New law cracks down on DUI suspects in Washington

A new impaired driving law went into effect recently in Washington, changing the way the state treats drivers convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol. The new law, known as Senate Bill 5912, went into effect in September 2013.

Under the new DWI law, Washington drivers with a prior drunk driving conviction will face harsher treatment if they are arrested again for a subsequent DUI offense. The new law also enhances the penalties for other intoxicated driving offenses in Washington, such as driving the wrong way while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or DUI with a passenger under the age of 16 in the vehicle.

Harsher penalties for repeat DUI offenses

When a driver is pulled over for suspected DUI in Washington, the new law provides that police will automatically place the individual under arrest if he or she has been convicted of a previous DWI offense within the past 10 years. The law also provides that drivers arrested on suspicion of a second or subsequent intoxicated driving offense can be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicles within five days of arrest as a condition of being released from custody.

The legislation also attempts to prevent repeat DWI offenses by allowing judges to order 24/7 sobriety monitoring for people charged with a second or subsequent intoxicated driving offense. Washington is the fourth state to pass such a law, which requires repeat DUI offenders to wear an electronic bracelet or other device that monitors the alcohol levels in the wearer's body.

Other consequences of DUI in Washington

The consequences described above apply to everyone charged with a repeat DUI offense in Washington, even if the charges are ultimately dropped or the driver is found not guilty. In the event of conviction for a second or subsequent DWI offense in Washington, however, additional criminal penalties apply. Depending on the circumstances, including the number of prior convictions on the driver's record, these may include:

  • Monetary fines of up to $5,000.
  • Up to one year in prison.
  • Electronic alcohol monitoring for up to 120 days.
  • Loss of driver's license for up to three years.
  • Mandatory participation in a drug or alcohol treatment program.

Additional penalties may apply to drivers who are conviction of DUI with certain other factors, such driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.15 or higher. People arrested for intoxicated driving in Washington are encouraged to get help from a qualified DUI defense attorney at their earliest opportunity to help protect their legal rights and pursue an optimal outcome.