A bill that would change state DUI laws is making progress in the Washington legislature. Part of the bill, HB1504, is aimed at drivers with multiple DUI convictions and would elevate the fourth DUI arrest in 15 years to a felony. The current state law has a shorter, 10-year look-back period. The original bill to lengthen the look-back period failed to make it through the Senate in time for a vote, but lawmakers from both sides agreed to attach HB1504 to a DUI bill introduced by Goodman Republican Representative Brad Klippert.
The bill introduced by Representative Klippert also changes the safely off the road defense to the crime of having physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If an intoxicated driver pulls over to a parking area, turns off the car, gets out of the driver's seat and go to the passenger's side, they would be considered safely off the road by law enforcement.
Seattle DUI defense attorney Steve Karimi explains the physical control of a vehicle under the influence law in Washington and the safely off the road defense.
Physical Control of a Vehicle
A person may be convicted of having physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The punishment is the same as a DUI.
According to state law, a person is guilty of being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug if the person has actual physical control of a vehicle within this state:
(a) And the person has, within two hours after being in actual physical control of the car, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher as shown by analysis of the person's breath or blood made under RCW 46.61.506; or
(b) The person has, within two hours after being in actual physical control of a vehicle, a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher as shown by analysis of the person's blood made under RCW 46.61.506.
There is no formal definition of physical control. The charges are common in situations where an intoxicated person is sitting in the driver's seat with the car keys either in the ignition or within reach.
A defense to having physical control of a vehicle while under the influence is the argument that the person has moved the vehicle safely off the roadway. There is also no formal definition of the phrase safely off the roadway, but a car that is parked in a legal parking spot a far distance from a road or street is generally considered off the roadway.
Contact Attorney Steve Karimi
If you're facing DUI charges of any kind, defense attorney Steve Karimi can help. Attorney Karimi represents defendants in DUI cases in the Seattle area and throughout Washington. As a former prosecutor, attorney Karimi uses his experience to make sure that clients understand their rights and defenses. Contact us by calling 206-621-8777 or by filling out an online case evaluation form.