Hailey’s Law

State Supreme Court overturns Hailey's Law in suspected DUIs | Bellingham  Herald

In 2011, Senate Bill 5000, also known as Hailey’s Law, was created to ensure that a drunk driver does not return to his or her car and drive following his arrest and release. A vehicle will be towed from the scene of a DUI arrest and impounded for a minimum 12 hours. Furthermore, towing companies can demand payment for a tow and for storage before releasing an impounded vehicle.


On October 17, 2019, the Washington Supreme Court decided State v. Villela, which overturned Hailey’s Law on the grounds that the statute violated Article I, Section 7 of our state’s constitution.  The opinion reasoned that for the government to perform a search or seizure of private property there must exist a valid warrant or an exception to that warrant requirement.

The Court further reasoned that impounding a private citizen’s vehicle is an unlawful seizure.  Also,  that the warrantless seizures are “per se” unreasonable unless one of those narrow exceptions exists.

“RCW 46.55.360 waives what our constitution requires before a car may be seized: either probable cause or a long-standing exception to the warrant requirement, such as community caretaking. In addition, in the absence of probable cause, a car may be impounded only after individualized consideration of reasonable alternatives.”

With that, the WA Supreme Court seemingly delivered the death blow to Hailey’s law.


On March 25, 2020 Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 2483. It lets police impound a vehicle when no reasonable alternatives exist after someone has been stopped for DUIRepresentative Van Werven sponsored the bill after the original Hailey’s Law was ruled unconstitutional by the Washington State Supreme Court.


For more information on the legal landscaping surrounding vehicle impoundment and inventory searches, please read my Legal Guide titled, “VEHICLE IMPOUNDS: THE REASONS, THE RULES AND (HOPEFULLY) THE RELEASE.”

Additional resources provided by attorney Alexander Ransom: