Legislative Update: Two New DUI Bills for Washington State

Police officer giving sobriety test to young man to see if he is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Police cruiser is out of focus in the foreground.

Over the course of the last few years, Washington state has seen aggressive new laws and amendments concerning DUIs get passed by the state Legislature. This last session was no different.

House Bill 2280 changed a Class C felony DUI to a Class B felony. This reclassification greatly increases maximum penalties and exposure time in custody for anyone convicted. A felony DUI will now be punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. A DUI is currently charged as a felony when there are four or more prior convictions for DUIs within the last 10 years or a person has previously been convicted of vehicular homicide while under the influence of liquor, any drug or vehicular assault.

House Bill 2700 addressed license suspension issues and generally expanded existing DUI laws. It greatly speeds up the process to suspend the licenses of people arrested for impaired driving. Under current law, anyone arrested under suspicion of impaired driving has 20 days to request a hearing to contest the automatic license suspension. HB 2700 changes that time period to just 7 days. Additionally, instead of mandating that the hearing be held within 60 days, that time period is reduced to 30 days.

Both bills take effect June 9, 2016.

With the passing of these new DUI laws, it will be even more important to educate clients arrested under the suspicion of DUI and to immediately engage in action in order to meet the stringent timelines to preserve a client’s right to a hearing.

2 thoughts on “Legislative Update: Two New DUI Bills for Washington State

  1. Michael Harbeson

    Just so everyone knows, the new law amending RCW 46.20.308 in regards to the timing of DOL hearings and requests does not take effect until January 1, 2019 not June 9, 2016. I think the blog confuses that point.

  2. Scott E. Wonder

    Although Section 15 of HB 2700 (Chapter 203, Laws of 2016) changes the time period to request a hearing to contest administrative license suspensions and revocations from 20 days to 7 days, and shortens the time within which the administrative hearing must be held from 60 days to 30 days, this section does not take effect until 1 January 2019 according to Section 21 of the same bill. The remainder of the bill takes effect June 9, 2016.

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