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Hailey’s Law would impound Washington DUI vehicles

A bill proposed to the Washington state legislature would provide for the immediate impounding of a vehicle involved in a DUI arrest.

This is not the first such provision attempted in any state. New Mexico cities use the option at their discretion, and some cities in Arizona do the same. Utah uses a mandatory vehicle impound law called the “Not a Drop” law. 

The suggested bill in Washington is named after Hailey French, who suffered life threatening injuries in a DUI accident last year. The situation is unique because French was injured by a driver who had been arrested for DUI just hours before that same evening. The driver was supposed to have an ignition interlock in her car from a previous conviction, but she did not have one.

The driver should have been taken to jail, but, since jails were overcrowded, the trooper instead had to deliver the driver to her home and ask she remain there for the evening. The driver did not follow this order, getting back into her car and eventually hitting French in a second DUI offense that night.

State Rep. Doug Erickson, R-Ferndale, is behind Hailey’s Law. This law requires the vehicle of a DUI driver to be impounded for 12 hours, if the driver owns the vehicle. If the vehicle belongs to another owner, the owner may come pick up the car. 

This bill aims to prevent a situation where a DUI driver could get back on the road hours after an arrest. Instead, the driver will have to wait until the next day at least to pick up the car. The fee to pick up the car can be high, which may serve as a deterrent to driving under the influence. Further, impound fees in other areas go toward combatting drunk driving through law enforcement funding.

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