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 do not 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 PenaltiesA charge or conviction for a gross misdemeanor DUI can result in:
  • Jail time or electronic home monitoring (house arrest)
  • Probation & fines
  • Washington or out of state driver's license suspension
  • Suspension of a commercial driver's license (CDL)
  • WA SR-22 auto insurance (proof of financial responsibility certificate)
  • Mandatory ignition interlock device
  • Alcohol or drug treatment
  • Wearing a SCRAM device (remote alcohol monitor)
Enhanced Penalty Situations

If the breath test result was .15 or above, or if you refused the breath test at the police station or refused a blood draw at the hospital, 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 such as reckless driving or negligent driving. 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 Western Washington courtrooms of King, Thurston, and Pierce County. The legal limit or the presumptive level of intoxication is .08 for adults and .02 for a minor DUI (under age 21). However, you can be charged with a DUI if you were below these limits if the prosecutor can show that your ability to drive was impaired by the relatively small amount of alcohol in your system. 

Drug DUI

The criminal penalties for a DUI that results from prescription drugs, illegal drugs, or Marijuana are the same as an alcohol DUI. For a Marijuana DUI, the presumed level of intoxication is 5 nanograms of THC per ml of blood. For other drugs, there is no presumed level of intoxication. The information obtained from field sobriety tests and blood tests will be 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 the roadway, as this can be an exception allowed by current DUI laws.

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 lawyer will do their own independent investigation to uncover any issues that will strengthen your case.

Beckwith Law has a proven track record for negotiating significant reductions and case dismissals in the courts of Pierce County, King County, and Thurston County. We can be called any day of the week (including after-hours) for a free DUI consultation.

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