A Seattle mother was recently arrested for DUI and spent the night in jail when she was stopped by a police officer for DUI and her child was in the vehicle. According to the police report the mother backed her vehicle into parked van in a 7-11 parking lot. Apparently there was extensive damage caused to the parked vehicle. When officers arrived on scene the mother was so unsteady on her feet she was unable to perform the field sobriety tests.
Last year Washington State added additional penalties for getting arrested for DUI with a child in the vehicle. Under RCW 46.61.5055 and RCW 9.94A.533 if a driver is arrested for DUI with a passenger under 16 then they face additional penalties on top of the regular DUI penalties. First an ignition interlock device will be imposed for an additional 6 months on top of the regular 1, 5, or 10 year increments. Secondly a higher fine is imposed for a first offense. And lastly for each passenger under 16 an additional 12 months shall be added to a sentence for vehicular homicide.
So how does this compare to other States. In all honesty it is pretty comparable to other States, and if anything the Washington State laws are less strict. For example in North Carolina if you get a DUI with a passenger under 16 then you automatically face a minimum sentence of 7 days to 12 months with mitigating circumstances adding a minimum sentence of 30 days to 24 months in custody. In Pennsylvania there is an automatic 100 community service hours that get imposed. But the cake is taken by Texas. If you get a DUI with a passenger under 15 then you face a minimum sentence of 180 days. Now that is tough.
Like I said Washington State recently enacted these laws. Surprisingly there are still States out there without any additional penalties for DUI with a child passenger. Vermont, New Mexico, Missouri, Indiana, Connecticut, and Alaska are the only ones I can find without additional penalties.
So back to the Seattle mother. She will probably face the additional penalties listed above per the RCW’s. Also knowing the Prosecutor’s office like I do she will most likely face harsher treatment from them as well.
About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI Lawyer in Seattle, WA. He is listed as a Top Rated Seattle DUI Attorney by Avvo, and a was recently named a Rising Star in the field of DUI Defense by Seattle Met Magazine. An honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys receive.