Is DUI A Felony Or A Misdemeanor In Washington? – Driving while intoxicated (DUI) is a serious offense that puts the public’s safety at great risk. The consequences of a DUI conviction in Washington State can vary depending on the jurisdiction, and one important aspect to consider is whether it is considered a felony or a misdemeanor. In the state of Washington, DUI offenses are subject to specific laws that define the severity of the offense and the corresponding legal ramifications.
Understanding the classification of a DUI offense is crucial for individuals facing charges, as it directly impacts the potential penalties they may face, including fines, license suspension, mandatory education programs, and even incarceration. Additionally, it is vital for all drivers to comprehend the legal distinctions to ensure responsible behavior on the roads and promote overall community safety.
In this article, Eastcoastlaws.com will explore whether a DUI in Washington is classified as a felony or a misdemeanor, shedding light on the legal framework surrounding these offenses. By providing an overview of the relevant laws and regulations, we aim to inform readers about the potential consequences and underline the importance of avoiding impaired driving.
An arrest for driving while intoxicated (DUI) can be stressful, whether it happens in the Seattle region or anyplace else. Will your driving privileges be revoked? Will a felony be brought against you? Will you be arrested? Certainty is one thing.
Driving while intoxicated is still one of Washington’s top worries for law enforcement. For instance, this state reported more than 8,000 road accidents involving alcohol in 2017. There were fatalities in more than one hundred such collisions.
In the State of Washington, misdemeanor charges for driving while intoxicated are the most common and do not entail accidents or injuries. But even with a minor first-time DUI conviction, you risk up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
However, you will be subject to substantially heavier punishments if your DUI accusation is a felony one, as detailed below. After a first conviction, Washington’s courts and prosecutors feel that drivers should “learn their lesson,” but for many DUI offenders, this doesn’t happen.
Felony DUI In Washington
What turns a DUI from a misdemeanor to a felony? If you have too many past DUI convictions or you cause a traffic accident that ends in the serious injury or death of another person, you could be charged with felony DUI in Washington.
A fourth DUI violation will be prosecuted as a felony if the driver has three or more DUI convictions within ten years. Additionally, DUI-related vehicular assault or homicide will be charged as a Class C felony in the case of anyone who has previously been convicted of either offense.
Convictions for class C felonies carry sentences of up to five years in jail and penalties of up to $10,000.
How Are DUI-Related Homicide And Vehicle Assault Crimes Handled?
DUI vehicular murder is a Class A felony that carries a $50,000 fine and a maximum term of life in prison. If a victim passes away as a result of their injuries within three years of the collision, a DUI vehicular murder charge may be brought.
DUI vehicular assault is when a person who is intoxicated causes substantial bodily harm to another person, which is defined as an injury that results in at least one of these three conditions:
1. a fracture
2. temporary but substantial disfigurement
3. brief loss of a body component or organ experiencing a temporary but significant impairment.
Vehicular assault is considered a Class B felony. Class B felonies carry a maximum sentence of ten years in jail and a maximum fine of $20,000.
Will Your License To Drive 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.
Why Is It So Important To Avoid Being Convicted Of A DUI Felony?
It is crucial to avoid being convicted of DUI, especially as a felony, for various reasons. If driving is a crucial part of your job or essential for your work, you may be forced to seek alternative employment after being convicted of driving under the influence.
Following a felony DUI conviction, your auto insurance costs will significantly increase. Additionally, if you hold a professional license in the state, a felony driving under the influence conviction is likely to result in the suspension or revocation of your license by the professional licensing board.
For immigrants residing in the State of Washington, any DUI conviction, even if reduced to a misdemeanor charge through a plea deal, can have severe consequences. This is because any conviction for driving under the influence can trigger a removal hearing and put an immigrant at risk of deportation.
What Can A DUI Defense Attorney Do For You?
If you are charged with DUI as a felony, the prosecution must establish your guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” A skilled DUI defense attorney will know how to challenge the prosecution’s case against you.
If the police did not breach your rights, your lawyer may contest the validity of blood or breath tests, the reliability of the equipment used to conduct the tests, the handling of test findings and samples, or the credentials and training of the person conducting the test.
Your defense attorney will thoroughly investigate all aspects of driving while intoxicated accusation, collect and analyze evidence, question any potential witnesses, uphold your legal rights, vigorously pursue justice on your side, and bring your DUI case to the best resolution possible.