DUI Penalties

Washington State has some of the harshest DUI penalties in the country. An experienced DUI attorney should be consulted promptly after an arrest to protect your rights and to make sure that you don’t miss any important deadlines.

A first time DUI in WA State is normally charged as a gross misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and a $5000 fine. In all cases where a conviction is entered, there are mandatory minimum sentences, which a judge is required to impose and cannot reduce.

Criminal & Civil Penalties If charged with or convicted of a DUI, potential consequences include:
  • Jail time or Electronic Home Monitoring
  • Probation & Fines
  • Washington or out of state driver's license suspension
  • Suspension of a commercial drivers license (CDL)
  • WA SR-22 (High Risk) auto insurance
  • Mandatory ignition interlock device
  • Alcohol or drug treatment
Enhanced Penalties

If the breath test result was .15 or above, or if you refused the breath test at the police station, there are enhanced DUI penalties. The penalties also increase significantly if this is not your first DUI, even if your first DUI was reduced to a lesser offense. If you have been convicted for driving under the influence four or more times, vehicular assault, or vehicular homicide, then you will be facing felony DUI charges.

Below the Legal Limit Breath Test

Under the legal limit DUIs are being aggressively prosecuted in the courtrooms of King, Thurston, and Pierce County, including the municipal courts of Seattle, Tacoma, Lakewood, and Olympia, WA. The legal limit or the presumptive level of intoxication is .08 for adults and .02 for a minor DUI (under 21). However, you can be charged with a DUI even if you are below these limits or without a breath test result, if the prosecutor can show your ability to drive was affected by alcohol or drugs.

Drug DUI

The criminal consequences are the same for a DUI that results from prescription drugs, illegal drugs, or Marijuana. For a Marijuana DUI, the presumed level of intoxication is .05 nanograms of THC. For other drugs, there is no presumed level of intoxication. The information obtained from field sobriety tests and blood tests is used by the prosecutor in an attempt to prove intoxication.

Physical Control DUI

You can be convicted of a Physical Control DUI if you were not driving the vehicle at the time of arrest. The penalties for a Physical Control DUI are the same as a driving DUI. With Physical Control charges, your lawyer may be able to prove that your vehicle was safely off of the roadway.

Defending your Charges

The evidence used to prosecute a person accused of DUI is highly technical. For example, the results from portable breath test machines and field sobriety tests can be suppressed, if your attorney can demonstrate that the testing procedures were flawed. A good DUI defense lawyer will uncover any issues that will strengthen your case.

Cristine Beckwith is a Pierce County DUI attorney with a proven track record for negotiating reductions and case dismissals. She has successfully fought the accusations of thousands of clients in the communities of Tacoma, Seattle, Puyallup, Olympia, and Lakewood, Washington. Her experience as a relentless advocate in the courts of King, Thurston, and Pierce County will help you get the best possible result.