There have been a number of Washington state legislative changes in the past couple of years, and some forthcoming at the start of 2011, that have eased the license suspension concerns of those facing Washington DUI convictions and DUI related Department of Licensing administrative sanctions. Unfortunately, if the driver has an original charge of DUI reduced to Reckless Driving, these changes have been and continue to be of little or no assistance.
Under the current Washington state law, any conviction for Reckless Driving will result in a 30 day license suspension. During this suspension, the driver is eligible for an Occupational or Temporary Restricted license. This means, among other things, that if the driver applies for the license, showing proof of an SR22 insurance filing and providing a written declaration from his employer (for a work license) or school registrar (to drive to school), he can be provided with temporary and restricted relief from the 30 day suspension. If approved, the driver could drive for work, school, and treatment related reasons but only on specific days of the week and in specific geographic locations. The entirety of the 30 day suspension must be served before being eligible for reinstatement regardless of whether the license had been previously suspended administratively based upon the original DUI arrest. In other words there would be no concurrency of suspensions recognized by the DOL for Reckless Driving suspensions.
Compare the licensing consequences of the person who is convicted of the reduced charge of Reckless Driving to the person who is found guilty of DUI.
Most people convicted of a DUI in Washington (except in certain situations enumerated below) are immediately eligible for an Ignition Interlock License upon application to the DOL. Upon a showing of obtaining the SR22 filing and installation of an ignitions interlock device, along with an application filing fee, the driver will be eligible to drive anywhere he or she pleases, regardless of time, date, geography, or reason, without any additional restriction or limitation. No declaration needs to be sought by an employer. Additionally, if the driver’s license was previously suspended adminstratively based upon the DUI arrest, he will receive credit for the entire duration of the previous suspension.
With respect to the ignition interlock license disparity, pursuant to RCW 46.20.385, any person convicted of an alcohol related DUI or Physical Control charge is generally eligible to apply for an IIL. The only current exceptions are that those convicted of alcohol related vehicular assault and vehicular homicide, who have vehicular assault and vehicular homicide convictions in the previous seven years or drug related DUI charges are not eligible. These current exceptions become moot when 2SHB 2742 becomes law on January, 1, 2011. At that time all of those in the above categories become eligible to apply for an ignition interlock license.
The reason for the disparity regarding concurrent recognition of previous license suspensions arising out of the same incident is simply because the Washington DUI penalty statute specifically addresses the issue while the Reckless Driving statute does not.
Our state seems to be making a distinction between drug and alcohol related driving offenses and non-drug and alcohol related offenses when determining who should be eligibile for both an ignition interlock license as well as recognition and credit for previous license suspensions based upon the same incident. This is both unfair and disingenuous. For years Washington state DUI laws have treated Reckless Driving offenses that were reductions from DUI as an alcohol related driving offenses. They are treated as prior DUI offenses for purposes of mandatory snetencing laws upon future convictions. Courts still order alcohol treatment evaluations for those convicted of reduced Reckless Driving charges. In short, the only place that the the state does not treat DUIs reduced to reckless driving as an alcohol offense is with respect to IILs and concurrent license suspensions.
The fact that the legislature overhauled the ignition interlock laws to allow greater rights to those convicted of vehicular homicide than people convicted of reckless driving is diconcerting. The distinctions made by the state are arbitrary and inconsistent. The State has to address these inequities in order to make these laws more consistent, less confusing, and indicative of reality. For questions realting to these and other DUI related issues, feel free to contact Washington DUI lawyer, Tim Milios