Washington DUI sentencing courts in impose a number of standard, and sometimes even unique, conditions upon a DUI conviction. Some are affirmative conditions, i.e. pay fines, complete an alcohol evaluation, participate in alcohol treatment, and attend DUI victims panel. Others are prohibitive. Don’t commit law violations, don’t consume alcohol, don’t drive without an ignition interlock. Violations of any conditions imposed by the court can mean additional sanctions being imposed. Certain violations, however, result in mandatory penalties, with very little discretion allowed.
Pursuant to RCW 46.61.5055 (11)(A), there are three violations of a DUI probation that require the court to impose a mandatory penalty. The way the statute reads, upon a conviction for DUI the sentencing court must impose the following conditions:
- Not driving within Washington without a valid license to drive and proof of insurance
- Not driving a motor vehicle in Washington with an alcohol concentration above .08 or a THC concentration above 5.00 nanograms within two hours of driving
- Not refusing to a test of blood or breath upon lawful request by law enforcement.
That same statute further requires that for EACH violation of the above conditions found to have been committed, the court is required to impose 30 days of confinement AND 30 days of license suspension. So, by way of example, if a person on a DUI probation were to be caught driving without proof of insurance, refused to take a breath test and then provided a blood sample with an alcohol concentration in excess of .08, that person would be looking at 90 days of confinement and 90 additional days of license suspension.
One of the real problems with these severe and mandatory sanctions is that, as often as not, the person on probation rarely knows that these specific violations will result in mandatory penalties. Occasionally a judge will point this out or the individual’s lawyer will specifically advise them of this fact. Usually, however, that person leaves court only knowing that such conduct is prohibited but not that the harsh mandatory penalty will result from such violations.
The takeaway from all of this? If you are in this position, make sure your license and insurance are valid and intact and that the Washington DOL has your updated address of record. It’s these two violations that we see significantly more than any other. An unpaid speeding ticket results in a license suspension and the individual hasn’t updated his address with DOL and never receives notice of the suspension. Insurance accidentally lapses or proof isn’t available at the time of the stop. It seems unnecessarily harsh that someone would have to spend 30-60 days in confinement for a simple oversight. Especially when the underlying conviction may have only resulted in one or two days in jail to begin with. With that being said, that is exactly what Washington DUI courts are required to impose in such circumstances. So be vigilant and cautious to avoid unwittingly falling into this situation.