The Vanishing of DUI Work Release in Washington

When you are facing DUI charges in Washington, the consequences can be incredibly serious and will have an impact on your life now and for years to come. A DUI conviction will remain a part of your record forever and can result in fines, the loss of professional licenses and even jail time. The penalties become even steeper if you have been convicted of DUI before, and you can even lose your driver’s license. This is why it is crucial to contact a criminal defense law firm if you are facing this or any other criminal charge.

In the past, people serving DUI jail sentences could use a work release program, but this is an option that is no longer widely available.

Work Release in WA

Naturally, if you are convicted of DUI in Washington and end up with a jail sentence, you could lose your job and your finances will be severely jeopardized. Because of this, many areas of the state had work release options for people who needed to serve a DUI jail sentence. With the possible jail sentences of 30 to 120 days after a second or third DUI offense, work release gave people the chance to save their employment, instead of leaving jail without a job and drained cash reserves.

This work release program had very strict rules and there were costs involved, but it was often worth it for the people charged because it allowed them to keep their jobs and continue to provide for their families despite a jail sentence. In most cases, work release was an option for defendants. However, this has changed dramatically over the last few years in Washington.

Program Declines Statewide

Up until around 2016, nearly all county jails and many of the state’s smaller city jails had work release as an option for people who had to serve sentences over five to ten days in length. In the areas where there were no work release programs, some courts would allow the person charged to serve it in a jail where the program was available to them. In general, even though work release involved additional expenses and sometimes a waiting period, a person could usually count on it as an option.

These days, however, work release isn’t as nearly available as it once was. Many areas are no longer offering it as an option because of the associated costs. Those that do have work release now have more limiting criteria, such as excluding people from other jurisdictions. Naturally, this has had a serious impact on people who are facing longer jail sentences and the prospect of losing their livelihoods.

Home Detention on the Rise for DUI

Washington’s legislature may have been considering the decline in work release programs around the state when it made significant changes to the mandatory minimum sentence laws back in 2017. When a person serves a longer amount of time under home detention, he or she will have a reduced mandatory sentence. For example, before the changes, a person who was looking at a conviction for a second DUI within a period of seven years could have ended up with 30 to 45 days in jail and another 60 to 90 days of electronic home monitoring (EMH). Now, after the state legislature’s amendment, that same person could have jail time reduced to four to six days with 180 days on EHM. The clear benefit to a person is the reduced time in jail while being able to work while on EHM. The downside, however, is an increase in the total time in jail and the costs associated with having EHM for six months. EHM can cost between $15 and $20 per day, and some agencies will require half, if not all, that cost upfront.

There are still some work release programs available for those with DUI jail sentences, but these opportunities are now geographically limited and come with more restrictive criteria. In many cases, taking part in a work-release program will require some planning and strategy from your criminal defense law firm. If you are facing a DUI charge in Washington and are worried about your job and ability to provide for your family, it’s imperative you speak to an attorney about your case as soon as you can.

Office Locations