Washington’s Drunk Driving Laws and Penalties

Learn about the penalties for a first, second, and third DUI conviction in Washington.

Washington’s DUI laws forbid a person from operating or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle:

A DUI involving a BAC of .08% or more is called a “per se DUI.” Just as alcohol affects different people differently, the volume of alcohol necessary to reach .08% can differ for different people.

“Actual physical control” of a vehicle requires a person to be able to control the mechanics of the vehicle. The vehicle does not have to be moving or even running, but the driver can assert a defense to a DUI charge by showing the vehicle was safely pulled off the roadway at the time of arrest.

Washington Lookback Period & DUI Penalties

The possible jail time, license penalties, and fines for a DUI conviction are set by statute. These penalties depend on the circumstances of the offense and the number of prior offenses the offender has that occurred within the last seven years.

First-Offense DUI

A DUI offender with no priors in the last seven years will have to pay a $350 to $5,000 fine and serve one to 364 days in jail. In lieu of the mandatory day in jail, the offender can serve 15 days on house arrest or 90 days in the 24/7 sobriety program.

Offenders who had a BAC of at least .15% or refused to submit to a breathalyzer test in violation of the state’s implied consent laws face two to 364 days in jail and $500 to $5,000 in fines. Instead of jail, the offender can serve 30 days of house arrest or 120 days in the 24/7 sobriety program.

Second-Offense DUI

An offender with one prior DUI in the last seven years will face $500 to $5,000 in fines and 30 to 364 days in jail. The court can alternatively order four days jail and either 180 days of house arrest or 120 days in the 24/7 sobriety program.

Second offenders who unlawfully refused chemical testing or had a BAC of .15% or more will face $750 to $5,000 in fines and 45 to 364 days in jail. The court can alternatively order six days in jail and either six months of house arrest or 120 days in the 24/7 sobriety program.

A second or subsequent DUI offense can result in the court ordering the driver’s vehicle to be seized and sold.

Third-Offense DUI

An offender with two prior DUIs in the last seven years will face 90 to 364 days in jail, six months in the 24/7 sobriety program, and $1,000 to $5,000 in fines. The court can add eight more days of jail time instead of sobriety monitoring.

If the third offender refused chemical testing or had a BAC of .15% or more, the court will order $1,500 to $10,000 in fines, 120 to 364 days in jail, six months in the 24/7 sobriety program, and 150 days of house arrest.

Enhancements for DUIs Involving Child Passengers

The court will order additional penalties if the driver was transporting a child under 16 years old at the time of the DUI offense. For a first offense, there’s an additional 24 hours in jail and $1,000 to $5,000 in fines. A second offense involving a child passenger carries and extra five days jail and $2,000 to $5,000 in fines. And anyone convicted of a third DUI with a child passenger faces ten days jail and $3,000 to $5,000 in fines on top of the normal penalties.

Substance Abuse Treatment

All violators must submit to a drug and alcohol evaluation and follow the recommended treatments and educational classes. The court can also order attendance at a victim’s impact panel.

License-Related Sanctions

The court reports all DUI convictions to the Washington Department of Licensing. The Department will then suspend the driver’s license as follows.

  • First offense. 90-day suspension (two days if enrolled in 90 days of the 24/7 sobriety program). If the driver’s BAC is .15% or more, the suspension will be one year (four days if enrolled in 120 days of the 24/7 sobriety program).
  • Second offense. Two-year suspension (one year if enrolled in six months of the 24/7 sobriety program). If the driver’s BAC is .15% or more, the suspension will be 900 days.
  • Third offense. Revoked for three years (four years if the driver’s BAC is .15% or more).

Refusal. Pursuant to Washington’s implied consent law, drivers who unlawfully refuse a breath or blood test are subject to license revocation. A driver’s license will be revoked for two years on a first offense, three years on a second offense, and four years for a third offense.

Ignition interlock device. All convictions require the installation and maintenance of an ignition interlock device (IID) during the probation period. However, with an IID, the driver can apply for an IID restricted license. This restricted license allows operation during the suspension/revocation period with the IID.

Probationary license. After reinstatement, the driver’s license will be probationary for a five-year period.

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