Several years back, the landscape of vehicle impounds in Washington State DUI arrests had a seismic shift. Prior to July 22, 2011, law enforcement had the discretion to decide whether to impound a DUI suspect’s car. Many variables went into an officer’s decision (department policy, attitude of the suspect, level of inebriation etc). On July 22, 2011, DUI tow impounds became mandatory; law enforcement lost its discretion. This is so because of ‘Hailey’s Law’, which requires that a DUI suspect’s car be towed from the scene of the DUI arrest and impounded for a minimum of 12 hours.
How did the law get its name? Well, as is often the case, a tragedy took place. Hailey French was injured seriously when she was involved in a head-on collision with a drunk driver in January of 2007. The driver had been arrested for DUI several hours before the crash, but was not booked into jail, and her vehicle was not impounded. After being processed, the arrestee was driven home by a law enforcement officer, who had warned her not to drive until she had sobered up. Ignoring this admonishment, the suspect went back to her car, and caused the crash which injured Hailey French.
Of significant note, there are provisions in Hailey’s law that allow for a registered owner to claim the car prior to the 12 hour period elapsing, but only if the person is not the arrested person, and was not in the car at the time of the arrest. The law, unbeknownst to many, is now crystal clear – anyone arrested for DUI or Physical Control in Washington State will have the car they are operating or in possession of towed and impounded. It is the law, no exceptions.
Any person accused of DUI or Being in Actual Physical Control of a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence – whether a minor was in the car or not – should consult with a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer. A qualified and respected Seattle DUI lawyer, among other things, can quite possibly save the aggrieved person thousands of dollars in court and insurance fees, the extent of loss of privilege to drive, and the amount of jail time to be served. We have said it before and will say it again, Washington traffic laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney to handle. Be smart and consult with a qualified and skilled Seattle DUI attorney when arrested for an alcohol and/or drug related DUI in Washington State.