Recent Change to Washington State DUI Law

In March of this year Governor Christine Gregoire signed into law Substitute House Bill 2443. The same took effect last month. Among other things, the new law modified the penalty phase of a DUI conviction as it relates to home detention (also known as electronic home monitoring – “EHM”).

For many people, one of the most significant consequences of a subsequent DUI conviction in Washington State is the mandatory period of EHM. For a second DUI offense within seven years a person faces a mandatory 60-90 days of EHM to be served after a mandatory jail sentence. On a third offense or more, that EHM increases to 120-150 days. The new SHB 2443 law now gives people facing what was once mandatory (not discretionary) home detention the option of serving the EHM portion of the sentence as actual jail time for a much lesser duration.

For many, having to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet and being tied to their home for months is worse than a much shorter period of jail. To that end, for years, DUI lawyers have attempted to circumvent that requirement by asking the sentencing court to EHM to straight jail time. The sentencing requirements for first time offenders gave courts a guideline to do just that, but the statute was not clear on whether the courts/ judges could “convert” EHM to straight jail on second or subsequent DUI offenses.

Under SHB 2443, courts now have the discretion to convert EHM back to jail time, or work release, at that 15-1 ratio (Every 15 days of EHM is equal to one full day of actual jail). So instead of a mandatory 60 days of EHM, the court can order an additional 4 days of jail, or from 90 days of EHM to 6 days in jail, etc. With reductions for good time credits, those number may even drop further. It is likely that a person would have to request the conversion but the way the statute is currently drafted, it appears to give the court the option of doing so even absent such a request by a defendant.

Because of the significant implications a DUI arrest and/or conviction can have, it is imperative that a person charged with DUI in Washington State immediately retain a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer or a qualified Bellevue DUI lawyer. In many instances, a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer can significantly reduce the impact that a DUI charge will have on an individual’s life. The right Seattle DUI attorney will be worth his/her weight in gold when protecting a person’s rights, freedom and future. The Seattle DUI attorneys that make up the litigation team of SQ Attorneys are dedicated to defending those accused of drunk driving. They have the experience, knowledge and resources to successfully defend your case. Unlike other law firms that practice in many areas of the law, SQ Attorneys is focused on criminal defense representation with an emphasis on DUI defense in Western Washington.

If you or a loved one is faced with a DUI charge in Western Washington, you deserve the assistance of a reputable and qualified Seattle DUI attorney who will relentlessly defend your case. You deserve a Seattle DUI lawyer who has an intimate understanding of Washington DUI laws and the legal issues that could win your case. You deserve a Seattle DUI defense attorney who is not afraid to stand up against the prosecution and aggressively fight for your rights and interests. SQ Attorneys is the right Western Washington DUI law firm for the job. Call for a free initial consultation – (206) 441.0900 (Seattle); (425) 998-8384 (Eastside) – it will be the best decision you make all day.

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10.0Gregory Wayne Schwesinger
10.0Saad Qamer Qadri
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