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.