CDL Will No Longer Be Saved By A Deferred Prosecution For DUI Arrest

Senate Bill 6068, Section 1 amends RCW 46.20.270 and Section 2 amends RCW 46.25.010. Under this statute, a deferred prosecution will not save a person’s CDL. Undoubtedly, the new language will have a tremendous detrimental effect on unsuspecting CDL holders and possibly surprise attorneys who are unaware of this change. The date to keep in mind is July 26, 2009. On this date a few simple words in the law will erase what once was a safe harbor for those who possess a CDL and charged with a DUI, even if the DUI arrest occurred while in a personal vehicle.

RCW 46.20 is the general statute that requires drivers of motor vehicles to obtain a valid driver’s license and sets out exceptions, exemptions, and punishments for violations of the statute. The specific changes to this statute are found in RCW 46.20.270, subsections 4 and 5. The changes to these subsections are found within SECTION 1 of the new Bill (6068). The major substantive change is new lanaguge in RCW 46.25.010(7). There, “entry into a deferred prosecution” is added to the long list of what will now be considered a conviction for purposed of the CDL.

Although the question comes up with some frequency as to whether a Deferred Prosecution saves a person’s CDL, the answer after July 26, 2009 is now simple: No, it will not.

This change has come about due to what many have called “Anti-Masking” Legislation. Pursuant to 49 CFR 384.226, Judges are not allowed to "mask" convictions. The state must not mask, defer imposition of judgment, or allow an individual to enter into a diversion program that would prevent a CDL driver's conviction for any violation, in any type of motor vehicle, of a state or local traffic control law (except a parking violation) from appearing on a driver's record, whether the driver was convicted of an offense committed in the state where the driver license is licensed or another state. We started seeing this a few years ago in traffic courts and to most practitioners who limit their practice to DUI defense this change is not really all that surprising. However, to the average CDL holder who previously knew that in worst case scenario a Deferred Prosecution was an “ace in the hole,” the odds are now completely stacked against the CDL holder and in favor of the house.

As a result of the Federal Legislation forcing this amendment the DUI / CDL arena has now shifted. A basic working knowledge of the interplay between not just the Uniform Commercial Driver’s License Act and Washington State DUI law, but a good working knowledge of Federal Legislation and all other state DUI laws is now a necessity.

Categories: Washington DUI