The title is a little misleading, as the law on DUI in terms of the legal limit has not changed, but rather the laws related to a DUI arrest or conviction have changed. Some may say for the better, while others will strongly disagree. Regardless of the camp you may be in on this, what matters is that those who could not drive previously, now can, but with significant supervision and consequences. The changes relate to who is eligible for a Ignition Interlock Device (IID) as well as the fairly new Ignition Interlock License (IIL).
Extensions of Eligibility
For the most part the changes create an “Extension of Eligibility” so that those previously unable to legally drive, regardless of whether they have an IID, now are able. Among the most important extensions is the ability of a those arrested or convicted of a drug related DUI and Physical Control convictions to obtain an IIs. Previously an alcohol based DUI was permitted an IIL while a drug based DUI was not. Both alcohol and drug based DUI conviction are NOW able to obtain an IIL.
Further extensions are to those who have had their licenses suspended or revoked due to a DUI related Vehicular Assault and Vehicular Homicide Arrest and Conviction. Where they were previously unable to obtain an ILL, they can now do so.
There is now and IID exception, meaning no IID is necessary on specific vehicles. So a person who ordinarily would be required to have a IID on their “personal vehicle” does not need one on vehicle “owned, leased, or rented by a person’s employer and on those vehicles whose care and/or maintenance is the temporary responsibility of the employer, and driven at the direction of a person’s employer as requirement of employment during working hours.”
This new exception allows people like mechanics to test drive vehicles they work on, or persons who job requires a rental car when they fly somewhere.
With respect to the IID and Convictions & Sentencing, the IID and requirement to obtain an IIL is now at the discretion of the Court and Judge for ALL drug and alcohol related convictions. This means that a DUI reduced to a lesser charge that is still alcohol related permits a Judge to order an IID or IIL even though there law does not specifically mandate it.
Alternatively, a Court may waive IIL application requirement if: (1) driver lives out of state with no reasonably available devices; (2) person does not operate a vehicle; or (3) not eligible for IIL. However, in such scenario’s the Court shall order other alcohol monitoring if no ILL and abstinence is ordered.
The meaning of priors within a seven and or ten year period is also now entrenched in statute, rather than the case law, although the statute is exactly the definition stated by the Supreme Court. “Within seven years” means that the arrest for a prior offense occurred within seven years before or after the arrest for the current offense; and “Within ten years” means that the arrest for a prior offense occurred within ten years before or after the arrest for the current offense.
Similarly a legislative fix from the same court case clarifies a “prior offense” in the form of a Deferred Prosecution when a second offense has been found to have been committed, yet the Deferred not yet revoked. This prevents “second offenses” as was the case previously. So as of now the legislature has again entrenched the Supreme Court ruling; the law is now that “ a deferred prosecution revoked based on a subsequent conviction for an offense, the subsequent conviction shall not be treated as a prior offense of the revoked deferred prosecution for purposes of sentencing.”
Also related to a Deferred Prosecution, it was previously the case where the person was forced to obtain an IIL and that required SR22 insurance, despite there being no license suspension. This years amendment, undoes that requirement and a IIL is no longer required for a deferred prosecution, HOWEVER an IID is STILL mandatory for at least 1 year as always.
Increase in Penalty for an IID Violation in Deferred Prosecution
Another legislative New Year’s resolution was to increase the penalty for an IID violation while participating in a Deferred Prosecution to that of a gross misdemeanor. Previously if a person violated the IID requirement they were only at risk to have a Judge revoke the Deferred, but now face an additional sentence up to 1 year in jail and a $5,000.00 fine rather than a 90 day jail term and a $1,000.00 fine. Furthermore, the Department Of Licensing now has the authority to suspend a person’s license who is on a DP if they are non-compliance with IID. This does not require any order.
In addition to adding some requirments, what the legislature giveth, it taketh away. A person may remove an IID (post conviction of course) if they can 4 consecutive months without: (1) an attempt to start with a BAC of 0.04 or more; (2) failure to take or pass any retest; or (3) failure to appear at IID vendor.
Another change stems from a case closer to home. In April 2009, a jury returned a verdict in favor of Hailey French who was injured in a head-on collision with a drunk driver who had been released from a prior drunk driving arrest by a state trooper one hour and 39 minutes previously. The Whatcom County District Court Probation Department was a party in the suit due to the fact that the drunk driver had been under a court order to drive only a car equipped with an alcohol interlock device, but the probation department had failed to follow-up on the judge’s court-ordered requirement. As a result there are NOW Liability Limitations. The probation department as an agency of Government now has liability limited if probation verifies installation of IID via written documentation from IID vendor.
Additionally, violations of IIL or IIL requirements are now a gross misdemeanor, when they were previously NOT crimes.