Washington DUI Laws And Penalties

by ECL Writer
Washington DUI Laws And Penalties

Every time we step into the driver’s seat of a vehicle, we assume not just the privilege of mobility, but also the grave responsibility of ensuring the safety of ourselves and those around us. In the state of Washington, this responsibility is reinforced through stringent DUI (Driving Under the Influence) laws and penalties designed to deter and punish individuals who choose to operate a vehicle while impaired.

These laws have evolved over the years to address the serious issue of impaired driving and its potentially devastating consequences. As Eastcoastlaws.com embarks on this journey through Washington DUI laws and penalties, we’ll explore the legal framework, the various consequences for those found guilty, and the measures in place to prevent this dangerous behavior.

Understanding Washington DUI Laws

How “driving under the influence” (DUI) is defined by the State of Washington and the penalties for being found guilty. In Washington, a motorist can get a DUI for driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle:

  • while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or more, or
  • with a THC concentration of 5 nanograms (ng) or more per milliliter of blood.

Without real evidence of impairment, a driver with a BAC of.08% or higher or a THC concentration of 5ng or more can be found guilty. “Per se DUI” refers to a DUI based on alcohol or drug concentration.

Jail Time and Fines for Washington DUI Convictions

The amount of prior offenses you have that occurred within the last seven years will play a significant role in determining the minimum and maximum jail time and fines you’ll receive for a DUI conviction in Washington.

1st Offense2nd Offense3rd Offense
Jail Time1 to 364 days30 to 36490 to 364 days
Fines$350 to $5,000$500 to $5,000$1,000 to $5,000

All infringers are required to submit to a drug and alcohol evaluation, finish the prescribed treatments, and take the required education sessions. A victim’s impact panel presence may also be mandated by the court.

Aggravated DUIs

DUI offenders who have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 15% or higher or who illegally refused a chemical test (see the section below on implied consent legislation) may be found guilty of an “aggravated DUI” and face harsher punishments. The minimum jail sentence and the range of fines are typically doubled for serious DUI convictions.

Child passengers

The consequences for a DUI conviction are increased when the driver is transporting a minor under the age of 16. The offender might receive up to an additional $5,000 in fines and an additional ten days in jail, depending on the number of past convictions.

Jail alternatives

It may be possible for offenders to complete all or part of the required jail sentence while under home arrest or in a “24/7 sobriety program.” House arrest is simply when criminals serve time under house arrest instead of in jail, however, it’s not usually a day-for-day exchange. The sobriety program spares participants from jail time in exchange for a variety of regulations and conditions that offenders must follow (such as travel limits and the use of an alcohol ankle monitor). For instance, a first-time offender can escape incarceration by completing a 90-day sobriety program or 15 days of home arrest. Repeat offenders must spend a few days in jail before being sent to an alternative to jail.


The police have the authority to tow and impound the violator’s vehicle after a DUI arrest. Vehicle forfeiture may also be an option for repeat DUI offenders.

License Revocation for a Washington DUI

The Washington Department of Licensing will suspend the driver’s license following notification of a DUI conviction. Below is a list of the timeframes for revocations and suspensions.

1st offense2nd offense3rd offense
Suspension Period90 days2 years3 years revoked
Suspension period if BAC is .15% or more1 year900 days4 years revoked
Suspension period if in 24/7 sobriety program2 days1 yearN/A

A five-year probationary period will apply to a license that has been reinstated following a DUI suspension.

Ignition interlock devices

During probation, every driver is required to install an ignition interlock device (IID). The use of an IID, however, in some circumstances gives the offender restricted driving rights during the suspension term.

Washington’ Implied Consent Laws

According to Washington’s “implied consent” rules, all drivers consent to take a breathalyzer test if they are properly stopped for driving while intoxicated. A driver who refuses to take the test will also face license revocation for two years for a first offense, three years for a second offense, and four years for a third offense, in addition to any DUI penalties. Both DUI convictions and test refusals count as prior crimes.

Mandatory Jail for DUI Conviction

DUI offenses in Washington carry stiff fines, electronic home detention, license suspension, and even jail time as potential consequences. Notably, even if you have never committed a crime before, you could still be charged with a serious misdemeanor and face obligatory jail time. DUI charges may be elevated to felonies depending on the specifics of your case, which might result in even harsher penalties.

It’s crucial to realize that if you are accused of DUI in Washington, you won’t necessarily be found guilty. A competent and qualified DUI lawyer can help you mount a strong case and fight the potential mandatory jail term that comes along with a conviction.

How is DUI Jail Time Determined?

Depending on the counts you were found guilty of, you could face a variety of sentences. Depending on whether it is your first, second, or third DUI within seven years, you may face various penalties in Washington. A fourth DUI within 10 years is charged as a felony and has harsher penalties if you are found guilty, in contrast to the first three DUIs, which are often charged as gross misdemeanors.

When determining a sentence, a court may also consider the following things:

  • Your DUI history
  • Your BAC results
  • You refused to submit to a BAC test
  • Drugs were also at play
  • You were involved in an accident in connection with the DUI
  • Children under 16 were present in your vehicle
  • You caused injury or fatality to another
  • You caused property damage
  • The court believes you pose a threat to the community

If you are found guilty of the DUI charges levied against you, you will still be subject to the minimum obligatory jail sentence imposed by Washington law, regardless of any aggravating circumstances. The Fox Law Firm is committed to obtaining a favorable result for each client and is aware of the negative effects that a DUI jail sentence can have on a person’s life.

Jail Time for Felony DUIs in Washington

In Washington, a fourth DUI within ten years is considered a crime and carries a potential jail sentence. A court will evaluate your “offender score,” which is based on the number of points correlating with any prior convictions while determining an appropriate sentence for a felony DUI.

Within three years following a DUI occurrence, the charges can be upgraded to DUI vehicular murder, a Class A felony, if the victim dies as a result of injuries brought on by the driver’s intoxication. At sentencing, you might receive years in prison if you are found guilty of vehicular murder.

The direction of your life may be altered if you are found guilty of felony DUI. The Fox Law Firm provides tenacious defense for felonies charged with DUI and strives to achieve the best result possible, whether through a plea agreement or going to trial.

Hiring A Washington Lawyer For DUI Cases

Hiring a Washington lawyer for DUI cases is a crucial step in navigating the complex legal landscape following a drunk driving arrest. Washington’s DUI laws are stringent, and the consequences for conviction can be severe, including fines, license suspension, and even jail time.

An experienced DUI attorney in Washington brings a wealth of knowledge to the table. They understand the intricacies of the state’s legal system, are well-versed in DUI laws, and have a track record of successfully defending clients. They can assess the unique circumstances of your case, challenge evidence, and build a strong defense strategy to minimize penalties or secure a dismissal.

Additionally, a skilled lawyer can guide you through the administrative processes, such as securing a temporary driving permit, and represent you during court proceedings, negotiations, or trial. Their expertise can be the difference between a favorable outcome and the long-term repercussions of a DUI conviction. In this challenging time, hiring a Washington lawyer is an investment in your future and peace of mind.

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