Drunk drivers in Washington will have a harder time getting back behind the wheel under a bill Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law Wednesday.
The new rules, dubbed “Hailey’s Law” after a woman who had a head-on collision with a drunk driver in 2007, require law enforcement officers to impound the cars belonging to people they arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs for 12 hours, and it’s meant to make sure people sober up before they can get access to a vehicle.
“This makes it, not worth it, but in a sense it does make it worth it because it means I went through this so somebody else doesn’t have to,” said Hailey Huntley, the woman for whom the bill was named.
Huntley said she’s still undergoing surgeries from her 2007 crash with a woman who had been arrested for drunk driving earlier the same day, taken home by a state trooper and had then called a taxi to go get her car.
Since the collision, Huntley sued the Washington State Patrol and Whatcom County, and was awarded about $5.5 million in damages.
Capt. Jason Berry, a spokesman for the State Patrol, said the new law would clear up a difficult situation that law enforcement officers find themselves in when they deal with impounding vehicles.
That’s because the Washington Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that the State Patrol couldn’t have a rule requiring troopers to impound a car under a certain situation because officers needed to take into consideration whether a reasonable alternative to impounding the vehicle existed.
But, in Huntley’s case, the state trooper had used discretion to determine what to do with the vehicle, and that led to a lawsuit against the State Patrol.
“This was really a situation where we’re darned if we do, darned if we don’t,” Berry said.