Washington State has some of the strictest and most punishing driving under the influence (DUI) laws in the country. First time offenders are sometimes shocked at the fines and other penalties they face. A DUI in Washington is a gross misdemeanor for the first offense, even if no one is injured. If someone was killed or injured, the offense often results in worse charges such as a DUI felony or vehicular assault. If you have recently been charged with a DUI in Washington State, there are several things you should know about Washington State DUI laws.
What You Need to Know About Washington State DUI Laws
What is a DUI in Washington State?
DUI stands for driving under the influence. In Washington State, a person may be charged with a DUI if they are found guilty of driving while under the influence of liquor, marijuana, or any legal or illegal drug or under the combined influence of liquor, marijuana, and any legal or illegal drug. See RCW 46.61.502.
Under the influence is typically measured by:
- Alcohol: a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, within two hours after driving (drivers under the age of 21 can be charged with a .02 alcohol concentration and commercial drivers can be charged with a .04 alcohol concentration)
- THC: a blood concentration of 5 or higher
Did you know?
Drivers in Washington State can be arrested on suspicion of DUI alone. That’s right, even if you blow below .08 alcohol concentration, an officer may still charge you with DUI if they suspect that you are driving under the influence.
Refusal to take a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) test in Washington State results in a one-year automatic suspension of your driver’s license and evidence of your refusal can be used against you in court.
Washington State DUI Sentencing Grid
In Washington State, there are three tiers for DUI sentencing:
First offense: mandatory court appearance, up to $5,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to a two-year license suspension, and mandatory rehabilitation at the driver’s expense.
Second offense: mandatory court appearance, up to $5,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to a three-year license suspension, and mandatory rehabilitation at the driver’s expense.
Third or more offense: mandatory court appearance, up to $5,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to a four-year license suspension, and mandatory rehabilitation at the driver’s expense.
What can you expect from a DUI conviction Washington State?
- Mandatory court appearance. Anyone charged with a DUI in Washington State is required to appear in front of a judicial officer within one (judicial) day after their arrest if they are served with a citation or complaint when they are arrested. Those who are not served with a citation or complaint when they are arrested must appear in front of a judicial officer no later than 14 days after the next day that court is in session.
- License suspension. If convicted of a DUI in Washington State, your license will be suspended unless you request a hearing to contest the suspension within 20 days of your arrest and the hearing examiner decides in your favor. This should be done with the help of an experienced DUI attorney.
- Ignition Interlock Devices (IID). Under Washington State law, municipal and district courts may impose additional sanctions for people convicted of a DUI, such as an IID. You should seek the help of a DUI defense lawyer to help fight against this sanction.
- Electronic Home Detention (EHD). EHD is like house arrest – jail time served at home. While the judge may choose EHD instead of jail time for a first offense, it is required for second and third-time offenses – at the expense of the defendant.
- Counseling or drug treatment program. Some offenders receive a mandate for drug or alcohol treatment instead of jail time.
- Probation. Probation is granted to low-risk first time offenders instead of jail time. In order to be considered low-risk, the individual must be gainfully employed and have a minimum criminal history.
Washington State DUI Deferred Prosecution
Even if you have been charged with a DUI, you may be eligible to petition the court to be placed on a Deferred Prosecution. The Deferred Prosecution program is meant to help defendants who have an alcohol or drug addiction or mental health problem by allowing them to enroll in a treatment program as an alternative to conviction and punishment. If the court accepts the petition, your DUI charges would be dismissed three years after completion of the two-year treatment program as long as you do not violate the court order granting your Deferred Prosecution. Speak to a qualified Washington State criminal defense lawyer to see if Deferred Prosecution is an option for you.
A DUI charge is a serious crime in Washington State. Having an experienced DUI lawyer to help you fight your DUI charges is your best chance at a successful outcome.
Mount Vernon Criminal Defense Lawyer Since 2010
We understand that being charged with a crime is a stressful and upsetting situation. Having an aggressive advocate in your corner who can offer legal guidance and craft a strategic, practical approach to your case is so important. The experienced Mount Vernon criminal defense attorney at Fields Law Office provides legal representation to criminal defense clients in Skagit, Island, and Whatcom Counties.
Sharon Fields is a highly skilled, results-driven criminal defense attorney with a tremendous drive to achieve justice, guided by her commitment and passion for your rights. Learn more about Fields Law.