You are the responsible one. You and your spouse are at a social gathering with your kids. You spouse is having a good time with friends so you volunteer to take the kids home and let him or her go out with their friends. You take the car and your kids home. But, on the way the Seattle Police Department or the trusty but now very invasive Washington State Patrol stop you for speeding in one of their emphasis areas. Little did you know the officer who stopped you is celebrated for bringing extra money to the department from the federal "Target Zero Program" because they are so prolific DUI officer. They "expertly" stop, sniff the odor of alcohol like an ex smelling bad breath, make you dance through impossible roadside agility drills (Field Sobriety Tests), cuff you, stuff you in the back of the squad car and haul you off to the station for an invasive sampling of your deep, deep lung air.
New Washington State DUI Law Involves Child Protective Services
But the kids? Needless to say your spouse gets the call and your kids have to remain all snuggie in their car seats until some family member arrives. This nightmare is horrible but the worst is yet to come - the all new CPS investigation.
Traditionally, the Washington State DUI prosecutor and judge read a police report and fight with your attorney over what the conditions of release should be while the criminal DUI case is proceeding through the system. In Seattle Municipal Court the City Attorney's DUI prosecutor combined with the judges there are more than tough when it comes to clamping down on defendants charged with DUI. They are more than competent to make safety assessments that include a charged persons children. But apparently the Washington State Legislature didn't think so. They just mandated a CPS referral upon arrest for DUI in Washington State.
Here's a short summary of what the new statute (RCW 46.61.507) says.
In every case where a person is arrested for a violation of DUI and Physical Control, RCW 46.61.502 or 46.61.504, the law enforcement officer shall make report if a child under the age of sixteen was present in the vehicle.
A law enforcement officer shall promptly notify child protective services whenever a child is present in a vehicle being driven by his or her parent, guardian, legal custodian, or sibling or half-sibling and that person is being arrested for a drug or alcohol-related driving offense.
They don't have to take custody of the child unless there is no other responsible person, or an agency having the right to physical custody of the child that can be contacted.
They defined "child" to mean any person under sixteen years of age.
Let me note here that the statute applies upon "arrest," and not conviction. So if the officer is wrong about his or her arrest decision, the statute still applies. And the CPS investigation is triggered and typically concludes prior to the filing of the criminal charge. So your defense attorney won't be able to get the DUI dismissed and as a result end the CPS investigation. The CPS authority comes from the arrest regardless what the prosecutors and the judge do later.
When the criminal DUI charge is filed, not only are they authorities going to be pushing (along with the now strong ignition interlock lobby) for an embarrassing ignition interlock device, they will be mandated to assure CPS actually comes to your home and inspects your children and your family. We'll save a discussion of the powers and authorities of CPS for later.
At The Law Offices of Kevin Trombold, we just successfully completed our first post 46.61.507 CPS investigation, which ended quietly, quickly, and most importantly successfully. Luckily the children in this case were so young they didn't know that they were being investigated.
For those with teenagers, imagine the face of your teen, when they have to go through a CPS interview. Needless to say....call a good lawyer.