Electronic Home Detention

Washington’s harsh DUI laws all involve mandatory imposition of a jail sentence upon any DUI conviction, and these laws have aggravated a pre-existing system-wide problem of jail overcrowding. In response to this problem, Electronic Home Detention (EHD) is now used in certain cases. A person who is given electronic home monitoring serves all or part of a jail sentence in detention at home, but is also permitted to go to work at regulated times.

Electronic Home Monitoring Equipment

Home detention is when a person convicted of a DUI is sentenced to wear an electronic monitoring device, ankle bracelet or wristwatch-like device, and ordered to remain confined to an area in and around their house.

Many new monitoring devices use voice recognition technology and Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) to monitor and report the detainee’s exact location twenty-four hours per day. Some home monitoring devices also contain testing mechanisms so the court can monitor whether the individual is complying with a court order to abstain from alcohol.

These devices send updates to a probation office. If the detainee is not within a prescribed distance from the home base or has exceeded the breath test alcohol limit, a “violation” is recorded and reported automatically to the probation office. A violation of home detention conditions will likely result in the jail time being served as “hard time” in a traditional jail facility.

The cost of the monitoring system is the responsibility of the detainee, who “rents” the equipment and pays the probation department for monitoring compliance. The fee can run from several hundred dollars to much more, depending upon the length of the required home detention.

Is Electronic Home Detention a Better Alternative than Serving Time in Jail?

Home monitoring might seem like a desirable alternative to “real” jail, especially for a person with no prior DUI arrests, but a little-known section of the law has a huge impact on this decision. Under RCW 46.61.5055, the minimum jail time is either one or two days in jail for a first offense DUI, depending upon the breath test result and other factors.

A person with no prior DUI offenses may ask to serve this time on electronic home detention but if that request is granted, fifteen days of home monitoring must be served for every one day of jail that would otherwise be served. Similarly, two days of jail is served as thirty days of EHD.

What is not generally understood is that the option of serving jail time as EHD may be imposed by the judge’s order on sentencing whether the defendant wants it or not.

For anyone with a prior DUI offense within seven years of the current incident, electronic home monitoring is mandatory and follows a period of incarceration in a “real” jail. For instance, a person with one prior conviction whose breath test is under .15 will serve thirty days in jail followed by sixty days of home detention as a minimum sentence. Judges are free, of course, to impose any sentence up to the maximum, 365 days in jail/$5,000 fine, in any case.

Contact a Qualified Washington DUI Attorney

Electronic home monitoring will likely grow in use as the technology increases in sophistication, decreases in price, and the punishment continues to increase for a conviction for DUI. If you are facing DUI charges, it’s best to have an attorney on your side to help you navigate the DUI Process in Washington. Providing effective representation and adept advocacy, the Fox Law Firm PLLC has been achieving favorable results since 1985. Contact Attorney Jon Fox for a free consultation by calling (425) 274-9190.