By Geoffrey Burg
Two significant new laws were passed this legislative session that will affect people accused of driving under the influence - substitute house bills 2660 and 3055.
These laws, expected to take effect in June, will have three dramatic effects in the DUI world. In the future, expect to see:
1. More breath tests admitted into evidence.
SHB 3055 eases the prosecution's foundational burden significantly.
2. More ignition interlocks.
SHB 2660 imposes interlocks on everyone convicted of an alcohol-based DUI (no longer limited to "aggravated" cases).
3. Expanded work/treatment based "temporary restricted" licenses,
including defendants who refused and repeat offenders under SHB 2660.
Concerning breath tests, the most substantial change in the law is the relaxation of the foundational burden for admission of test results, both at trial and in DOL hearings. In SHB 3055, the legislature amended RCW 46.61.506 to effectively eliminate the Washington Administrative Code from the admissibility equation.
Yes, this means that the WACs are history.
Gone are the days of mass suppressions based upon broken thermometers, improper QAPs and NIST traceability. The new reality is that a lot more breath tests will be admitted into evidence.
It remains to be seen whether a breath test technician or state toxicologist will even be needed for admission of the BAC results.
The other major change is that a lot more people will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their cars. IIDs will now required following all DUI convictions, and alcohol dependent deferred prosecutions, regardless of the BAC result.
The good news is that more people will be able to drive with the new "temporary restricted license." A TRL greatly increases when people can legally drive; to work, school, treatment, even for family obligations. In addition, more people will be eligible for a TRL, including those who refused the breath test and repeat offenders.
Finally, the IID will no longer be required on vehicles used for work. This law recognizes that a car is a necessity in our society and gives people the tools needed to continue on with their lives.
These new laws have many nooks and crannys.