By and large real estate agents don’t face any greater DUI related occupational ramifications than those in most other occupations. The one significant difference is the consequences that a DUI arrest could mean in terms of driving and the conditions placed on one’s ability to drive.
Real Estate Agents and License Suspension
The life blood of most real estate agents is their ability to travel to and transport clients to and from different properties. A DUI arrest, if accompanied by a breath or blood test above the legal limit or a refusal to submit to a blood test will mean that the government will get two opportunities at suspending the privilege to drive. One is administratively, through the Washington Department of Licensing, and would be for a period of 90 days to two (2) years depending on the facts of the case and the driver’s administrative DUI history. See Department of Licensing DUI hearings. The other is through the criminal court in which the DUI charge is filed and could be anywhere from 90 days to four (4) years, again depending on the DUI related history and facts of the case. See Washington DUI Sentencing Grid. Fortunately, in 2009 the DUI laws changed as they related to license suspension in that the now allow, in virtually every circumstance, for a person to drive during the period of suspension so long as they have installed a functioning ignition interlock device (IID) and obtained an ignition interlock license (IIL).
Real Estate Agents and Ignition Interlock Devices
The good news for most, that the privilege to drive can be preserved through the installation of an IIL device, simply creates another awkward situation for a real estate agent. Having to blow into the device prior to starting the car and intermittently while moving can be the cause of professional embarrassment in front of a client. There may be a way around this requirement but it too comes with a couple of caveats. Under certain conditions a person may be exempt from the IID requirement if driving an employer owned vehicle during work hours. The caveats are that (1) the car must be owned by the employer, driven only during business hours, not be available to the employee during non-business hours and the employer must file an affidavit to such an extent with the DOL and (2) during periods of suspensions that are the result of a DUI conviction, there is a period from 30 days to one year where the exemption would not apply.
Ignition Interlock and the Employer Vehicle Exception
If planning on applying for this exception, keep in mind that the DOL requires strict compliance with the caveats listed above. The main concerns being that the vehicle is in the company’s name and that it not remain on the employee’s premises and not be available to the employee during non-work hours. To police these requirements, the State of Washington has authorized a budget that pays for WSP Troopers to visit the home of those with an IID requirement to determine which cars are on the premises and if they have an IID. How effective that costly campaign has been has not been determined.
A real estate agent, as with anyone who relies on driving their own vehicle for a living, can be placed in a very difficult position due to a DUI charge, The fact that they also have to drive clients and prospective clients around, makes the situation even more difficult. If you find yourself in this situation, contact the DUI lawyers at Milios Defense. We routinely work with real estate agents and can help you not only understand these confusing laws but find a way help you keep your license and means to gainful employment.