DUI Laws In Washington State – Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense that can have significant legal and financial consequences. DUI laws in Washington State is one of the strictest DUI laws in the country, and understanding them is crucial if you want to avoid legal trouble. Whether you’re a first-time offender or have several DUI convictions, it’s important to know your rights and legal options.
In this ultimate guide, Eastcoastlaws.com will take an in-depth look at DUI laws in Washington, including the consequences of a DUI conviction, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC), and the penalties for refusing a breathalyzer test. We’ll also explore the differences between a DUI and a physical control violation, and provide tips on how to choose the right DUI attorney for your case. So, whether you’re a resident of Washington State or just passing through, buckle up and get ready to learn everything you need to know about DUI laws in Washington State.
DUI Laws In Washington State
In Washington State DUI laws, it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. For commercial drivers, the legal limit is 0.04%, and for drivers under the age of 21, it’s 0.02%. However, even if your BAC is below the legal limit, you can still be charged with a DUI if the arresting officer believes you are impaired by drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both.
It’s also important to note that Washington State has a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21. This means that if you are under 21 and have any amount of alcohol in your system while driving, you can be charged with a DUI. Additionally, if you are caught driving under the influence of drugs, you can be charged with a DUI regardless of your BAC.
If you are pulled over and the officer suspects you are driving under the influence, they may ask you to perform field sobriety tests or take a breathalyzer test. It’s important to remember that you have the right to refuse these tests, but doing so can result in additional penalties.
How Long A DUI Stays On Your Record In Washington
DUI Laws In Washington State allow a conviction stays on your record for a specific period of time. Here is the general information regarding how long a DUI stays on your record in Washington:
- First DUI Conviction: A first DUI conviction remains on your driving record for a period of 7 years.
- Second DUI Conviction: If you are convicted of a second DUI offense within a 7-year period, the conviction will remain on your record for 10 years.
- Third or Subsequent DUI Conviction: For third or subsequent DUI convictions within a 7-year period, the conviction will stay on your record permanently.
It’s important to note that these timeframes pertain to the record of your DUI conviction on your driving history and may differ from other types of background checks or criminal records. Additionally, the specific details and consequences related to DUI convictions may vary depending on individual circumstances and any changes in Washington state law.
Penalties For DUI In Washington State
A DUI conviction carries potential jail time, license suspension, and fines that are determined by statute. The particular sanctions a motorist faces, however, are determined by the facts of the case.
Washington 1st DUI Penalties
For individuals who receive their first DUI conviction in Washington and have no prior DUI offenses within the last seven years, the following penalties apply:
- A fine ranging from $350 to $5,000.
- a term of up to 364 days in prison.
The option is to serve 15 days on house arrest or 90 days in the 24/7 sobriety program instead of the mandatory jail time.
If the DUI offender had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least .15% or refused to submit to a breathalyzer test, in violation of the state’s implied consent laws, the penalties include:
- A fine ranging from $500 to $5,000.
- A jail sentence of two to 364 days.
The option is to serve 30 days on house arrest or 120 days in the 24/7 sobriety program instead of jail time.
Washington 2nd DUI Penalties
For individuals who receive second DUI laws in Washington State conviction within a seven-year period, the penalties are as follows:
- A fine ranging from $500 to $5,000.
- a term of 30 to 364 days in jail.
The court may impose 120 days in the 24/7 sobriety program or 180 days of home arrest in addition to four days in jail.
If the second offense involves the unlawful refusal of chemical testing or a BAC of .15% or higher, the penalties include:
- A fine ranging from $750 to $5,000.
- A jail sentence of 45 to 364 days.
The court may impose a sentence of six days in jail followed by 120 days of a 24/7 sobriety program or six months of house arrest.
Additionally, a second or subsequent DUI offense may lead to the court seizing and selling the offender’s vehicle.
Washington 3rd DUI Penalties
For individuals with two prior DUI convictions within a seven-year period, the penalties are as follows:
- A jail sentence of 90 to 364 days.
- Six months in the 24/7 sobriety program.
- A fine ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.
The court may add eight more days of jail time instead of sobriety monitoring.
If the third offense involves the refusal of chemical testing or a BAC of .15% or higher, the penalties include:
- A fine ranging from $1,500 to $10,000.
- a 120–364 day term in prison.
- Six months in the 24/7 sobriety program.
- 150 days of house arrest.
It is important to note that third DUI convictions carry severe penalties.
Substance abuse treatment and victim impact panels may also be required as part of the DUI conviction process.
Substance Abuse Treatment And Victim Impact Panels
All offenders must consent to a drug and alcohol evaluation, complete the prescribed treatments, and attend the required education sessions. A victim’s impact panel (VIP) presence may also be mandated by the court.
Enhancements In Washington For DUIs Involving Minor Passengers
If the driver was transporting a kid under the age of 16 at the time of the DUI violation, the court will impose additional punishments.
A first offense carries a fine of $1,000 to $5,000 and an additional 24 hours in jail.
An additional five days in jail and fines ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 are imposed for a second conviction involving a child passenger.
In addition to the usual penalties, anyone convicted of a third DUI while carrying a juvenile passenger faces ten days in jail and fines between $3,000 and $5,000.
License-Related Sanctions For Washington DUIs
Getting a DUI usually results in penalties related to your driver’s license. Even if a driver is not convicted of a DUI in criminal court, they may face an administrative license suspension as a consequence of the arrest.
In the state of Washington, DUI convictions are reported to the Washington Department of Licensing, which then imposes the following license suspensions:
- First offense: A 90-day suspension (two days if the driver enrolls in the 90-day 24/7 sobriety program). The suspension period is one year (four days if the driver completes 120 days of the 24/7 sobriety program) if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is.15% or higher.
- Second offense: A two-year suspension (one year if the driver enrolls in six months of the 24/7 sobriety program). If the driver’s BAC is .15% or higher, the suspension will be 900 days.
- Third offense: The driver’s license will be revoked for three years (four years if the driver’s BAC is .15% or higher).
Will I Be On Probation For A DUI In Washington State?
DUI in Washington can result in up to 5 years of probation. Each situation is evaluated individually to determine how long you will be on probation. The jurisdiction is another factor. For instance, Clark County prosecutors normally ask for five years of probation for a DUI. Probation only lasts two years in some counties. Because the judge has the authority to order someone taken into custody for disobeying the probationary conditions, it is crucial to properly abide by them while you are on probation for a DUI. A defendant on probation typically has to follow certain rules, attend court-mandated classes, and take care of any outstanding license issues.
Probation Conditions – Mandatory 30-Day Penalty
During probation, it is crucial to follow the driving regulations set by the court. The judge will emphasize that in order to operate a vehicle, you must strictly adhere to the following five requirements:
- Install and maintain an ignition interlock device in the vehicle as per the Department of Licensing (DOL) regulations.
- Maintain SR 22 insurance in accordance with DOL requirements.
- Keep a valid driver’s license as per DOL regulations.
- If an officer has reasonable grounds to request it, do not refuse to undergo a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or blood test.
- Do not drive when your BAC exceeds .08 or your blood contains more than 5 ng/mL of alcohol.
Violating any of these requirements will lead to a mandatory 30-day confinement penalty imposed by the judge.
DUI Charges And Consequences For Minors In Washington State
As mentioned earlier, Washington State has a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21. This means that even a small amount of alcohol in the system can result in a DUI charge. In addition to the penalties outlined above, minors convicted of a DUI can also face additional consequences, such as:
- A mandatory 90-day license suspension for a first offense
- A mandatory one-year license suspension for a second offense
- Participation in a youth alcohol/drug education program
- Community service
It’s important for minors and their parents to understand the serious consequences of a DUI conviction and to take steps to prevent underage drinking and driving.
How To Handle A DUI Arrest In Washington State
Being arrested for a DUI can be a stressful and overwhelming experience, but it’s important to remain calm and take certain steps to protect your legal rights. If you are pulled over and the officer suspects that you are driving under the influence, here are some things you should do:
- Be polite and cooperative with the officer, but do not incriminate yourself by admitting to anything or answering questions about how much you’ve had to drink.
- Refuse field sobriety tests if you feel uncomfortable or unsure of your ability to perform them. You have the right to refuse, but be aware that doing so can result in additional penalties.
- Consider taking a breathalyzer test, but only if you are confident that you are below the legal limit. If you are unsure, it may be best to refuse the test and consult with a DUI attorney.
- Contact a DUI attorney as soon as possible. A qualified attorney can help you understand your legal options and work to protect your rights throughout the court process.
DUI Court Process In Washington State
If you are arrested for breaking DUI laws in Washington State, you will be required to appear in court to face the charges against you. The court process can be complex and confusing, but having a qualified DUI attorney on your side can help. Here’s a brief overview of what you can expect during the court process:
- Arraignment: This is your first court appearance, during which you will be formally charged with the DUI offense. You will also be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.
- Pretrial hearings: These hearings are designed to allow your attorney and the prosecutor to exchange information and negotiate a plea bargain if possible.
- Trial: If you plead not guilty or are unable to reach a plea bargain, your case will go to trial. During the trial, the prosecutor will present evidence to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and your attorney will defend you against the charges.
- Sentencing: If you are found guilty or plead guilty, you will be sentenced by the judge. Sentences can vary widely depending on the severity of the offense and your criminal history.
Will A DUI Conviction Result In The Suspension Of My License?
Your license will be suspended by the Washington Department of Licensing if you are convicted of a DUI. In the case of a first-time DUI conviction, you can anticipate a minimum license suspension of 90 days. However, the duration of the suspension can vary depending on several factors and may exceed 90 days. Here is a general overview of what you can expect from the DOL for a first-time DUI conviction:
- If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is below .15, if you have not undergone a BAC test, or if the DUI is related to drug use, your license will be suspended for 90 days.
- If your BAC is above .15, your license will be suspended for 1 year.
- If you refuse to undergo a BAC test, your license will be suspended for 2 years.
How To Get Your License Back After A DUI In Washington State
If your driver’s license was suspended as a result of a DUI conviction, you will need to take certain steps to have it reinstated. In Washington State, this typically involves completing an alcohol/drug treatment program, paying any fines or fees, and installing an IID in your vehicle. Once you have completed these requirements, you can apply to have your license reinstated.
It’s important to note that the process of getting your license back can be complex and time-consuming. Working with a qualified DUI attorney can help ensure that you complete all the necessary steps and increase your chances of having your license reinstated.
DUI And Insurance In Washington State
A DUI conviction can have significant consequences for your auto insurance rates. In Washington State, insurance companies are required to file SR-22 forms on behalf of drivers with DUI convictions. An SR-22 is a certificate of financial responsibility that shows proof of insurance coverage. Drivers with SR-22s on file are considered high-risk by insurance companies and can expect to pay significantly higher premiums.
It’s important to shop around and compare insurance rates after a DUI conviction, as some companies may offer more affordable rates than others. Additionally, taking steps to improve your driving record and completing an alcohol/drug treatment program can help demonstrate to insurance companies that you are a responsible driver and potentially lower your rates over time.
Hiring A DUI Lawyer In Washington State
If you are facing DUI charges in Washington State, hiring a qualified DUI attorney is crucial. A good attorney can help you understand your legal options, work to protect your rights, and potentially negotiate a plea bargain or reduced sentence. When choosing a DUI attorney, it’s important to look for someone with experience in handling DUI cases, a track record of success, and a commitment to fighting for their clients.
Driving under the influence is a serious offense in Washington State, and understanding the DUI laws in Washington State is crucial if you want to avoid legal trouble. Whether you’re a first-time offender or have multiple DUI convictions, it’s important to know your rights and legal options. By following the tips and advice outlined in this ultimate guide, you can take steps to protect yourself and potentially minimize the consequences of a DUI conviction. Remember to always drive responsibly, and never get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking.