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Huffing, Reckless Driving, and Home Detention are Now Addressed in Washington DUI Laws


With summertime festivities winding up, so are DUI's and newDUI laws. In March 2012, Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire approved major changes to be made to the DUI laws of the state through Substitute House Bill 2443. The provisions of this bill will take effect on August 1, 2012, just as late summer BBQ's and wine-coolers take place in our short-lived sunshine season. This bill is defined as "an act relating to increasing accountability of persons who drive impaired," and addresses numerous DUI issues including huffing, reckless driving, and home detention.

So what do these new laws mean?

Let's start with the more obscure of the issues: "huffing." It is guaranteed that numerous people have been pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence of chemical inhalants and released because there was no on-point statute dealing with the specific situation of, let's call it, "huffing and driving." Until recently, "under the influence" was defined as being under the influence of something that was made for human consumption, such as alcohol or drugs. This meant that products not meant for human consumption did not qualify as "under the influence." As a result, numerous Washingtonians had their DUI charges reduced or even dropped after huffing a gallon of paint and going for a leisurely drive. The passing of Substitute Bill 2443 weaves a definite close to that loophole. One can now be charged with DUI when caught driving under the influence of horse tranquilizers, Sharpies, and paint thinners.

If the idea of inhaling fumes from a Sharpie seems a little far-fetched, let's talk about something a little more familiar: reckless driving. Post Substitute House Bill 2443 means that when a reckless driving conviction is the result of a reduction from the original DUI charge, an individual is now credited for any DUI-related administrative suspension toward a suspension for reckless driving. Additionally, this means that more Ignition-Interlock Devices will be needed for offenders who had their DUI charge reduced to reckless driving.

Another change that comes with the passing of Substitute House Bill 2443is the ability for the courts to now convert home detention to work release or time in jail. This is deciphered by a system known as the "15-1 ratio." For example, fifteen days of electronic home monitoring equals one day of jail. This means that as of August 1, 2012, the court can order that instead of the mandatory 60 days of electronic home monitoring, the offender can now be hit with an extra 4 days of jail time.

The passing of Substitute House Bill 2443 brings with it numerous changes to the DUI laws of Washington State. These laws add stricter penalties to those convicted of drunk driving. The stringent penalties include increased fees, and the ever-so-modern technology of facial recognition on Ignition-Interlock Devices, among others. It is definitely a good time to have the business card of a great DUI attorney…just in case. Call our office to schedule a free consulation with an experienced, tough attorney who can fight charges such as these.

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