Upcoming Changes to DUI Laws in Washington State for 2024

In the latest legislative session, Washington state has passed House Bill 1493, introducing significant changes to DUI laws. These amendments will affect both first-time offenders and those facing felony DUI charges. Here’s a detailed look at the key updates:

1. Expanded Lookback Period for Felony DUI Charges

  • Previous Rule:
    • A DUI could escalate to a felony if the individual had three or more DUI-related convictions within the last 10 years.
  • New Rule:
    • HB 1493 extends this lookback period to 15 years.
    • Prior DUI convictions from the past 15 years can now elevate a new DUI offense to a felony.
    • This change increases the likelihood of more DUI cases being charged as felonies.

2. Sentencing Alternatives for Felony DUI Convictions

  • Current Options:
    • Felony DUI typically results in standard prison sentences.
  • New Options Under HB 1493:
    • The Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative (DOSA) now applies to first-time felony DUI offenders.
    • Benefits of DOSA:
      • Eligible individuals can receive treatment instead of traditional prison sentences.
      • Focus on rehabilitation for underlying substance abuse issues.
    • This provides a more rehabilitative approach for those convicted of their first felony DUI.

3. Changes to Deferred Prosecutions for First-Time Offenders

  • Previous Rule:
  • New Rule Under HB 1493:
    • Allows a second deferred prosecution for subsequent DUI offenses.
    • Conditions:
      • If a first-time offender opts not to defer prosecution and then faces another DUI, they can only request one deferred prosecution in total.
    • Provides more flexibility but emphasizes the importance of making informed decisions early on.

Implications for Those Charged with DUI

  • Tougher Penalties:
    • Increased likelihood of felony charges for repeat offenders due to the extended lookback period.
  • Rehabilitation Focus:
    • Expanded DOSA program offers treatment options for first-time felony DUI convictions.
  • Flexibility for First-Time Offenders:
    • New rules on deferred prosecutions provide additional opportunities for those seeking treatment over penalties.

Navigating these changes requires experienced legal counsel. If you are facing DUI charges, it’s crucial to understand your rights and options under the new legislation.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact my office.