DUI in Washington State is a serious offense, and if you are charged with a felony DUI in Washington State, the consequences can be severe. Felony DUIs are considered more serious than misdemeanor DUIs, and they carry more severe penalties. If you or someone you know is facing a felony DUI charge in Washington State, it is essential to understand the laws that govern this offense. Felony DUI in Washington State can be complex, and navigating the legal system can be overwhelming.
In this article, Eastcoastlaws.com will provide an overview of felony DUI in Washington State, including what constitutes a felony DUI, the penalties for a conviction, and the legal defenses that may be available to you. Whether you are facing a felony DUI charge or simply want to learn more about the laws that govern this offense, this article will provide you with the information you need to better understand felony DUI laws in Washington State.
What Is A Felony DUI?
A felony DUI is a DUI charge that is elevated to a felony charge due to certain aggravating factors. In Washington State, a DUI charge can be elevated to a felony if:
- It is your fourth or subsequent DUI offense within ten years
- You have previously been convicted of vehicular assault or vehicular homicide while under the influence
- You have previously been convicted of a felony DUI offense in another state or country
If any of these aggravating factors are present, you may be charged with a felony DUI. It is important to note that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that these aggravating factors exist in order to charge you with a felony DUI.
Felony DUI In Washington State
Washington State has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country, and felony DUIs are no exception. In addition to the aggravating factors listed above, a felony DUI charge can also be based on the level of your blood alcohol content (BAC). If your BAC is 0.15 or higher, you may be charged with a felony DUI.
It is also important to note that Washington State has a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21. If you are under the age of 21 and are caught driving with any amount of alcohol in your system, you may be charged with a felony DUI.
Fourth Or Subsequent DUI Conviction Is A Felony
In Washington, a first, second, or third DUI conviction is typically a misdemeanor. However, the next DUI (fourth or subsequent) will be a felony if the motorist has three or more prior convictions that happened during the previous 10 years.
A class B or class C felony is committed upon a fourth or subsequent DUI conviction. A class B felony carries a maximum fine of $20,000 and a possible jail sentence of ten years. Drivers who are found guilty of a class C felony face a potential $10,000 fine and a jail sentence of up to five years.
Penalties For Felony DUI In Washington State
If you are convicted of a felony DUI in Washington State, the penalties can be severe. The specific penalties will depend on the circumstances of your case, including any aggravating factors that may be present. However, some of the common penalties for a felony DUI conviction in Washington State include:
- A mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days in jail, and up to 5 years in prison
- A fine of up to $10,000
- License suspension or revocation
- Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)
- Mandatory completion of an alcohol or drug treatment program
Driving under the influence (DUI) while killing another person is referred to as “vehicular homicide,” a class A felony. A conviction entails a potential fine of $50,000 and a sentence of up to life in prison.
In addition to these penalties, a felony DUI conviction can also have long-term consequences, such as difficulty finding employment, housing, or obtaining a professional license.
Ignition Interlock Device Requirements
If you are convicted of a felony DUI in Washington State, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle. An IID is a device that measures your BAC and prevents your vehicle from starting if you have been drinking. To start your vehicle, you must blow into the device and have a BAC below the legal limit. In addition to installing an IID, you may also be required to attend regular monitoring appointments to ensure that the device is functioning properly.
Will My Driver’s License Be Suspended?
Your driver’s license could be suspended for up to a year if, following a DUI arrest, you refuse to submit to a chemical test. In addition, depending on the specifics of the case, the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles will suspend a person’s license for one to three years if they are found guilty of a felony DUI.
In Washington, every defendant who is found guilty of DUI is now also required to have an IID (ignition interlock device) put in their private vehicle.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that the majority of DUI accusations in Washington are misdemeanors, and the maximum jail sentence for a misdemeanor conviction is one year. A felony DUI accusation may occasionally be downgraded to a lesser offense or even dropped entirely.
If police personnel violated a suspect’s rights during a traffic stop, search, interrogation, arrest, or DUI test, the prosecution may withdraw the case or the judge may dismiss the DUI charge, whether it be a felony charge or a misdemeanor charge.
Felony DUI Defense Strategies
If you are facing a felony DUI charge in Washington State, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced DUI defense attorney. There may be legal defenses available to you, depending on the circumstances of your case. Some possible defense strategies for felony DUI charges in Washington State include:
- Challenging the legality of the traffic stop or arrest
- Challenging the accuracy of BAC test results
- Arguing that the aggravating factor does not exist
- Negotiating a plea bargain to reduce the charge or penalties
An experienced DUI defense attorney can review the details of your case and determine the best defense strategy for your situation.
Hiring A DUI Defense Attorney
If you are facing a felony DUI charge in Washington State, it is important to hire an experienced DUI defense attorney to represent you. A DUI defense attorney can help you understand your legal options and can work to build a strong defense on your behalf. When hiring a DUI defense attorney, it is important to choose an attorney who has experience handling felony DUI cases in Washington State and who has a proven track record of success.
Alternatives To Felony DUI Conviction
In some cases, it may be possible to avoid a felony DUI in Washington State conviction through alternative sentencing options. Alternative sentencing options may include:
- Deferred prosecution
- Drug or alcohol treatment programs
- Community service
- Home detention or electronic monitoring
An experienced DUI defense attorney can help you understand your options for alternative sentencing and can work to negotiate a favorable outcome for your case.
DUI Prevention And Education Programs
Preventing DUIs is a top priority in Washington State, and there are a variety of programs available to help educate drivers on the dangers of driving under the influence. These programs may include:
- Alcohol and drug education classes
- Victim impact panels
- Ignition interlock device programs
- DUI courts
Participating in these programs can not only help prevent future DUIs but can also be beneficial in demonstrating to the court that you are taking responsibility for your actions and working towards rehabilitation.
The Importance Of Seeking Legal Help
If you or someone you know is facing a felony DUI in Washington State, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced DUI defense attorney. Felony DUI charges carry severe penalties, and navigating the legal system can be overwhelming. An experienced attorney can help you understand your legal options and can work to build a strong defense on your behalf. With the right legal help, you may be able to avoid a felony DUI conviction and the severe consequences that come with it.
Felony DUI in Washington State is a serious offense, and the penalties for a conviction can be severe. If you or someone you know is facing a felony DUI charge, it is important to understand the laws that govern this offense and to seek the advice of an experienced DUI defense attorney. With the right legal help, you may be able to avoid a felony DUI conviction and the severe consequences that come with it. Remember, prevention is key, and participating in DUI education and prevention programs can help keep our roads safe and prevent future DUIs.