As of July 22, 2011, police officers making DUI arrests in the State of Washington no longer have the option to leave to person’s vehicle parked where it is or to allow another person to drive the vehicle home. On that date, legislation enacted back in April of 2011 took effect, commanding that the vehicle of a person arrested for DUI in the state of Washington must be towed from the scene and held for a period of 12 hours. Known as Haily’s Law, it was created to ensure that a drunk driver does not return to his or her car and drive following his arrest and release.
The law itself is named for a woman who was seriously injured when struck by a person who had been arrested for DUI, returned to his vehicle upon being released and then drove again despite being commanded not to. Under the new law, a car is to be towed and held at the yard for the duration of the 12 hour hold. The only exception is that if the registered owner of the vehicle is not the arrested driver, he or she can recover the vehicle at any time. This certainly seems the beg the question, “If the registered owner of the vehicle can be found in the same or less amount of time that it would take a tow truck to respond, why not let the registered owner drive it from the scene?”
Though the outward intent of the law appears admirable, you have to wonder if it really will accomplish what it sets out to. That is, keeping drunk drivers off the road. How much police man power time will be wasted by officers waiting for a tow truck that could be have been spent on the road searching for the very drivers they purport to protect society from? Assume a 30 minute wait time for a tow truck. Given three stops per night per officer, this translates into 90 minutes of down time. Further assuming that before the law an officer would have only towed 50% of the vehicles stopped we are left with a 45 wasted minutes per night per officer on average. How many drivers would have been stopped in that aggregate time over the course of a year? Would that number be more or less than the number of people who actually return to their car and drive after being arrested for DUI and prohibited from doing so by the arresting officer.
But the tow yard owners are happy.