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New Law Allows Police to Impound Vehicles Following DUI

Posted by Steve Karimi | Mar 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

Last Wednesday, March 25, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed H.B. 2483 (also known as Haley's Law 2.0) into law. The bill allows a law enforcement officer to direct a vehicle to be impounded when no reasonable alternatives exist after someone has been stopped for driving under the influence. Additionally, if the officer determines impounding the vehicle is necessary to keep the public safe, it must be impounded for a minimum of 12 hours. The law will take effect on June 10, 2020.

This legislation was sponsored by Representative Luanne Van Werven. Representative Van Werven introduced the bill after a previous version (Haley's Law) was found to be unconstitutional by the Washington Supreme Court last fall. The previous version, named for a woman injured in a DUI-related crash, was signed into law in 2011. 

Under that law, a man was arrested for driving under the influence after a law enforcement officer pulled him over and the driver declined a roadside field sobriety test. The man had been riding with two passengers. After his arrest, the law enforcement officer impounded his Jeep (rather than considering another course of action, such as releasing the vehicle to one of the passengers). The defense lawyer in this case argued that the seizure of the car was unconstitutional, and the Washington State Supreme Court eventually agreed, striking down Haley's Law in October 2019.

The new iteration of the law targets the "reasonable alternatives" that may be available under the circumstances. Under the recently passed legislation, a law enforcement officer only has the authority to impound a vehicle only if no reasonable alternatives to impounding are available at the time. If, like in the WA Supreme Court case, alternatives exist in the form of passengers, police are not permitted to impound the vehicle.

Also, the law permits an officer to determine if impounding the vehicle is in the best interests of the public; previously the law mandated that impounding the vehicle happened automatically. Under the new statute, a law enforcement officer will make the determination as to whether or not impounding is appropriate under the current circumstances.

The period of 12 hours of impoundment is meant to address the risk of a still-intoxicated individual obtaining possession of the vehicle and getting behind the wheel again, a fact pattern that occurred in the case which gave the law its name.

Seattle DUI Defense Attorney Steve Karimi

Some feel that a DUI arrest and/or conviction can carry a stigma. However, often times a DUI arrest is the result of a good person making an error in judgment. Yet the results of a DUI conviction can be incredibly serious, affecting your career, finances, criminal record, driving ability, and more. Having an experienced defense attorney by your side can be a critical factor in the outcome of your case. If you're facing DUI charges, contact former King County prosecutor Steve Karimi by filling out an online contact form or calling 206-621-8777 today.

About the Author

Steve Karimi

Steve Karimi attended Pepperdine University School of Law. After graduation he worked as a prosecutor in Seattle where he gained valuable insight to the criminal justice system. Attorney Karimi uses his experiences as a prosecutor everyday only now he fights for the justice of those accused.

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