A new law will go into effect one month from now that will make two important changes in how the state of Washington enforces its driving under the influence (DUI) laws. One has to do with the requirement that drivers install an ignition interlock device in their car before their DUI trial. The other change has to do with so-called “open containers” of marijuana – yes, you heard that right – in your car.
Changes to the Ignition Interlock Device Requirement
This is the hit for the people of Washington, and for justice, everywhere.
Before this bill takes effect on September 26, people convicted for DUI would have to install an ignition interlock device in their car, even if they had no intention of driving. Many of the people who get convicted for DUI make this decision, for a variety of reasons. Installing, maintaining, and removing an ignition interlock device is expensive, and some people simply can't afford it. Using it is embarrassing, and many people don't want to go through the experience every time they get behind the wheel. Additionally, some people are in a position where they don't have to use their cars on a daily basis, and so there's little incentive for them to go through the expense of getting an ignition interlock device put into their vehicle.
Despite this, Washington's DUI law had required them to get an ignition interlock installed in their vehicle, anyway.
With the new law, though, this will change. Starting September 26, instead of installing a costly and unnecessary ignition interlock device in their car, people convicted for DUI can file a sworn statement that they will not drive, and submit to either an alcohol monitoring program, or a 24/7 sobriety program.
Another change with Ignition Interlocks is that any criminal violations of the requirement will have to be served consecutive to all other charges that someone is going to jail for.
No “Open Containers” of Marijuana in Car
This is the head-scratching miss in Washington's new DUI law.
Starting September 26, it will be a traffic infraction to have marijuana open and accessible to either the driver or the passengers in a car.
It seems that the lawmakers in Washington wanted to prevent people from getting high while driving. Why they didn't just make a law preventing people from getting high while driving is unknown. Instead, they made a sweeping proclamation in the new law that also prevents passengers from getting high while not-driving, and makes it difficult to even transport marijuana, made legal in the state of Washington, by regulating where marijuana can be in a car while you're driving. With the new law, marijuana can't be in an “open container” - something without a seal, and with the contents partially removed – and accessible to anyone in the car. If you're driving alone, this includes the glove compartment, which the law expressly states is accessible to the driver.
You can review the lengthly new law, H.B. 1276, here.
If you have concerns, or are charged under its new provisions, call attorney Kevin Trombold at 206-971-0067.