Washington State considers DUI crimes to be very serious and that is reflected within the penalties that come with such a conviction.
The type of penalty associated with a DUI conviction can vary based upon several factors including:
- Prior DUI offenses
- Whether a breathalyzer test was agreed to by the offender
- The offender's blood alcohol content (BAC)
- Whether the driver was over the age of 21 years old at the time of the arrest
Prior DUI Offenses
In the state of Washington, if a DUI offender has a record for prior DUI offenses within seven years of the current arrest, they will face a harsher penalty than that of a first time offender. Prior offenses that may count towards a prior offense include:
- Reckless driving
- Reckless Endangerment
- Vehicular Homicide
- Vehicular Assault
- Negligent Driving in the First Degree
The driving laws in Washington State consider any person who operates a motor vehicle within the state borders to have given consent to a test of his or her breath for the purpose of determining the alcohol concentration of his or her breath if arrested for any offense where an officer has reasonable grounds to believe the person had been driving while under the influence.
However, the driver cannot be forced to take a breathalyzer test. If refused, the decision will be met with consequences that may include:
- The privilege to drive will be revoked for at least one year
- The test refusal may be used as a fact in a subsequent criminal trial
- If found to be guilty of driving while under the influence, the mandatory minimum sentence will increase if the driver refused the breath test and the license suspension will be for two years.
The refusal will also likely prompt the officer to seek a search warrant for a blood test.
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)
Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) refers to the percent of alcohol in a person's blood stream.
In Washington State, a driver may be charged with driving under the influence if:
- Their BAC was .08% or higher if 21 years of age or older at the time of the arrest
- Their BAC was .02% or higher if 20 years of age or younger at the time of the arrest
- Their BAC was .04% and they were in commission of a commercial vehicle at the time of the arrest
If the DUI is a first time offense for the driver and their BAC was found to be under 0.15%, they will be required to spend at least 24 hours in jail (maximum of one year); ordered to pay at least $900 in fines (maximum of $5,000); have their driver's license suspended for at least 90 days; and have Ian ignition Interlock device in their vehicle for one year following the reinstatement of their license (requires passing a breath test prior to starting the vehicle).
If the DUI is a first time offense for the driver and their BAC was found to be over 0.15 or the driver refused the breath test, they will be required to spend at least 48 hours in jail (maximum of one year); ordered to pay at least $1,100 in fines (maximum of $5,000); have their driver's license suspended for at least one year ( two years on a refusal; and have an Ignition Interlock device in their vehicle for one year following the reinstatement of their license (requires passing a breath test prior to starting the vehicle). Whether this is your first offense or you have had prior DUI offenses, please contact me at the law office of Coleen St. Clair at (206) 578-2200.