Another Day, Another Article in a Washington State newspaper (The Olympian) concerning drivers arrested for Marijuana-DUIs in our state. This time, the title of this article is, "Drive High, Keep Your License? State Officials Want Fix in the Law." The title & article seem to imply that drivers arrested &/or convicted of Marijuana-DUIs in Washington State will rarely, if ever, face the possibility of a license suspension. However, this is incorrect, as each & every driver convicted of a Marijuana-DUI in our state will face atleast a 90-day license suspension followed by atleast a 1-year restriction that they not operate a motor vehicle unless it is equipped with a functioning Ignition Interlock Device (IID), which merely monitors alcohol consumption (never mind the fact that such person most likely didn't even consume alcohol on the date of their arrest). The writers for The Olympian didn't get everything wrong though, as the US Supreme Court, in Missouri v. McNeely, 133 S. Ct. 1552 (2013) did, in fact, atleast temporarily put a halt to administrative suspensions for drivers providing Blood results of 5.0 ng/mL of THC. Regardless, any King County DUI Defense Attorney who dedicates their practice to defending those accused of serious traffic offenses is well aware that the title & tone of this article are misleading. The article can be read at the link below:
Relevant portions of the article include:
Administrative license suspensions are an important way to penalize impaired drivers, given the unpredictability and drawn-out nature of the the legal process, Benfield said.“It just helps to hold people more accountable,” he said, “A lot of times somebody will get pulled over and they'll test over the legal limit. And down the road or during the criminal track, they'll plead down or have their case dismissed.
”Suspending a driver's license immediately after a positive blood test is “one of those tools that has been proven in study after study to prevent DUI fatalities,” Baldwin said.It's a particularly effective deterrent for young adults who are more likely to take risks and less likely to consider the consequences of driving impaired, she said.“It hits their pocketbook, it hits their freedom, it hits their ability to drive — that's a message that they pay more attention to,” Baldwin said.
*While I have issue with a few of the points in the article, I italicize just two above. First, the author implies that the "unpredictability and drawn-out nature of the legal process" is one of enjoyment for a defendant accused of DUI. Never mind the fact that judges themselves will impose Pre-trial conditions pertaining to one's driving privilege at an Arraignment hearing if such is necessary, but the "drawn-out nature of the legal process" can be a downright miserable experience for a defendant if their attorney isn't doing their job to ensure the process moves promptly. Currently, in our State's largest county, King County, defendants fighting their DUI charge can be required to take time off from work to travel to court hearings up to 15 times. That's right, even when a defendant is finally prepared to put their case in front of a jury, one of the courthouses in King County, specifically, won't be able to send the case out in front of a jury until after one's Constitutional Right to a Speedy Trial has already expired. Anyone who thinks drivers arrested for DUI in Washington State aren't inconvenienced or punished until their case resolves or the license is administratively suspended has no idea what drivers merely "ALLEGED" to have committed a crime are facing these days.
Second, positive blood tests for alcohol or drugs have never, & will never, be subject to an immediate license suspension. This is because the testing of one's blood takes time. The results need to be collected, stored, & eventually transported to the Washington State Toxicology Lab, where they need to be tested.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for DUI in Washington State, contact Veitch Ault & Associates immediately (425-452-1600) to make sure one is given the best chance to defend themselves.