A re-vamped law named after a Whatcom County woman that's aimed at keeping impaired drivers off the roads was signed into law Wednesday, March 25, by Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee.
House Bill 2483, or Hailey's Law 2.0 as it's being called, will take effect June 10. The bill allows a law enforcement officer to direct a vehicle be impounded when no reasonable alternatives exist after someone has been stopped for driving under the influence, according to a press release from Rep. Luanne Van Werven's office. The law also states that if the officer determines impounding the vehicle is necessary to keep the public safe, it must be impounded for a minimum of 12 hours, the release states.
Van Werven, R-Lynden, sponsored the bill after the original Hailey's Law was ruled unconstitutional by the Washington State Supreme Court in October 2019. The new law passed the Legislature unanimously, the release states.
The original law was named for Hailey Huntley, formerly known as Hailey French, who was injured in a 2007 head-on crash on the Mount Baker Highway.
Huntley spent 45 days in Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, four months in a nursing home and a year in a wheelchair after the Jan. 4, 2007 crash. Huntley was still undergoing surgeries at the time the original law passed in 2011.
Hours before the 2007 crash, a Washington State Patrol trooper found Janine Parker passed out behind the wheel in Bellingham. Parker was arrested and cited for DUI, but the trooper didn't impound her car, instead leaving it at the scene. Due to overcrowding at the Whatcom County Jail, Parker wasn't booked and the trooper drove her 9 miles to her home on Lake Whatcom. The trooper gave Parker back her keys and told her not to drive until she sobered up.
Parker then called a cab to take her back to her car and was driving on Mount Baker Highway when her car crossed the center line and hit Huntley's. Parker had a blood-alcohol level of 0.24 when arrested after hitting Huntley; her blood-alcohol level at the earlier arrest was 0.14. Parker later pleaded guilty to vehicular assault and was sentenced to 14 months in prison.
An appeal following a DUI stop in January 2018 in Quincy brought the original Hailey's Law before the state Supreme Court in October last year. The Supreme Court ruled that reasonable alternatives must be considered before impounding the vehicle. The new law addresses that issue, and doesn't make impoundment mandatory, according to legislative documents.
"My legislation addresses the court decision and will help keep impaired drivers from getting back in their cars. This has been an ongoing problem since the court decision," Van Werven said in a prepared statement. "This common-sense legislation will keep innocent people on our roads from going through the tragedy Hailey had to endure."