On January 1, 2022, the State of Washington will enact new laws related to DUI sentencing. These laws give the judge more flexibility when sentencing on DUIs with the mandatory minimum laws in Washington.
First Offense – House Arrest Option
The court will now be able to order house arrest or the 24/7 sobriety program instead of jail time. Currently, mandatory minimum jail time on a first DUI is either 24 hours or 48 hours, depending on the .BAC level or whether a breath test was refused. The way the law is currently written, the judge would have to find a “substantial risk to the defendants physical or mental well-being” in order to sentence someone to house arrest instead of jail. This limited the judge’s ability to individually assess each person’s case and determine whether jail is appropriate.
Under the new law, the judge, in their discretion, can order house arrest instead of jail. This means that the judge can use their independent judgment to determine whether jail is appropriate. The minimum house arrest time is either 15 or 30 days jail instead of 1 or 2 days in jail, respectively.
Second Conviction within 7 years
The mandatory minimum jail term for a second DUI in seven years has been either 30 or 45 days jail depending on the breath test reading or whether there was a refusal. Now, the law allows the judge to suspend or convert that jail time if the judge finds that serving that jail time would impose “a substantial risk to the offender’s physical or mental well-being.” Upon a second conviction the court will now order an expanded substance abuse disorder evaluation.
Third Conviction within 7 years
The mandatory minimum jail sentence for a third conviction within 7 years is still 90 or 120 days jail depending on the breath test result or whether there was a refusal to take the test. Like the second conviction within 7 years, the court can suspend or convert the mandatory minimum conviction for a third offense if the judge finds that serving that jail time would impose “a substantial risk to the offender’s physical or mental well-being.”
DUI with Minors in the Vehicle
The court now imposes an additional mandatory 24 hours of jail for each passenger under the age of 16 in the vehicle at the time of the DUI. The court will also order an additional 12 or 18 months of ignition interlock for each passenger under the age of 16 in the vehicle.