A Former Prosecutor Defending Clients in Wyoming and South Dakota
In February 2018, Wyoming legislators introduced a possible new Wyoming DWUI law. Senate File No. 86 is a bill intended to reduce repeat DWUI offenses and increase penalties for people who drive in violation of sanctions imposed for a DWUI conviction.
SF 86 has passed the Wyoming Senate, and is currently being considered by the Wyoming House.
If passed, SF 86 would create stiffer penalties for people convicted of a Wyoming DWUI, and change when a judge can and must order installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID).
Specifically, SF 86 would:
If passed, SF 86 would make a person convicted of a Wyoming DWUI ineligible to receive an unrestricted driver’s license until the person has held a 24/7 restricted driver’s license for between 6 months and 5 years, depending on the number of prior DWUI convictions.
Likewise, if a person qualified for the 24/7 Sobriety Program but failed to comply, that person’s 24/7 restricted driver’s license would be revoked, and they would not be allowed to operate a vehicle without an IID.
A violation of the terms of the 24/7 Sobriety Program would be classified as a misdemeanor, punishable by a mandatory minimum of 7 days in jail, and up to 6 months in prison. A second violation would be punishable by a minimum of 30 days in jail, and up to 6 months in jail plus a fine between $250 and $700.
SF 86 also proposes stricter penalties for people convicted of a Wyoming DWUI with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) greater than .15%, and would require installation of an IID. However, SF 86 would allow a judge to permit a person with a BAC greater than .15% to avoid installation of an IID by participating in a 24/7 Sobriety Program for 3 months.
Many states have enhanced penalties for people convicted of driving with a BAC higher than .15%. These states refer to such drivers as “super-drunk” – a term intended to denote a high level of intoxication that critics claim makes a driver extremely dangerous on the road.
Many states require installation of an IID for all drunk driving offenses, and most states have mandatory installation of an IID for people whose BAC is above .15%.
Wyoming does not currently require installation of an IID in any circumstances, but leaves the decision to the judge's discretion. SF 86 would not change that. However, Wyoming’s refusal to require installation of an IID has led critics to oppose SF 86, saying it doesn’t go far enough.
Critics of SF 86 claim that allowing drunk drivers to avoid installation of an IID by participating in a 24/7 Sobriety Program will do little to take dangerous drivers off the road because because the 24/7 Sobriety Program does nothing to prevent an intoxicated driver from starting his or her car. They suggest instead that using an IID in conjunction with a 24/7 Sobriety Program is the most effective way to curtail repeat drunk driving offenders. These critics have urged the Wyoming legislature to mandate the use of an Ignition Interlock Device for all people convicted of a DWUI.
Critics of SF 86 have also expressed concern over how the 24/7 Sobriety Program is administered. The proposed plan requires someone convicted of a Wyoming DWUI to submit to a breath test twice a day at a Wyoming Sherriff’s office. However, because the tests are pre-scheduled, a person can start drinking after taking the test, then be sober the next day when they need to take the test again.
Whether SF 86 will pass the House remains to be seen. If SF 86 does become law, it will bring significant changes for people facing DWUI charges in Wyoming.
If you or someone you care about has been charged with a Wyoming DWUI, it’s important that you work with a team of skilled and experienced DWUI defense professionals.
The team of DWUI defense professionals at The Law Office of Christina L. Williams will work tirelessly to challenge the evidence, and protect your one shot at justice.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is offered for educational purposes only. This information is not offered as legal advice. A person accused of a crime should always consult with an attorney before making decisions that have legal consequences.