The consequences of a DUI conviction in Washington depend mostly on how many prior convictions the driver has. This article covers the basics of Washington's DUI laws and the penalties for a first, second, and third DUI conviction.
Washington's DUI laws forbid a person from operating or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle:
"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 the arrest. (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 46.61.502.)
For most purposes, a DUI stays on your record and counts as a prior conviction for seven years. A DUI offender with no priors in the last seven years will have to:
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.
Instead of jail, the offender can serve 30 days of house arrest or 120 days in the 24/7 sobriety program.
An offender with one prior DUI in the last seven years will face:
The court can alternatively order four days in 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:
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.
An offender with two prior DUIs in the last seven years will face:
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:
As you'll note, the penalties for a third conviction are pretty severe.
In Washington, a DUI can be classified as a felony if the driver has at least three prior convictions that occurred within the past 10 years or if the current offense involves serious injuries or deaths.
When a driver has three or more prior convictions that occurred within the past ten years, the next DUI (fourth or subsequent) will be a felony.
A fourth or subsequent DUI conviction is either a class B or class C felony. A class B felony carries up to ten years in prison and a maximum fine of $20,000. Motorists convicted of a class C felony are looking at up to five years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.
A DUI involving serious injury to another person is vehicular assault, a class B felony. Convicted motorists are looking at up to five years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.
Causing the death of another person while driving under the influence is considered "vehicular homicide," a class A felony. A conviction carries up to life in prison and a maximum $50,000 fine.
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 an extra five days in jail and $2,000 to $5,000 in fines.
And anyone convicted of a third DUI with a child passenger faces ten days in jail and $3,000 to $5,000 in fines on top of the normal penalties.
A DUI will generally lead to license-related penalties. Administrative license suspension can occur for a DUI arrest, even if the driver isn't convicted of a DUI in criminal court.
The court reports all DUI convictions to the Washington Department of Licensing. The Department will then suspend the driver's license as follows.
Again, although a DUI conviction will lead to suspension, a suspension can occur even without a conviction.
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 on a third offense.
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.
After reinstatement, the driver's license will be probationary for a five-year period.
If you're younger than 21 years old, the legal limits for drugs and alcohol are much lower: It's a misdemeanor—an offense called "underage DUI"—for drivers younger than 21 to have a BAC of .02% or more within two hours of driving or drive with any concentration of THC in the blood.
An underage DUI is a different crime than a DUI, so it has different penalties. The most jail time you can get for an underage DUI is 90 days. (Drivers who are younger than 18 when convicted will serve any confinement in a juvenile detention facility.) The maximum fine is $1000 and you can receive up to two years of probation (see below).
This article provides the basics of Washington's DUI laws and penalties, but it's no substitute for legal advice. If you've been arrested for driving under the influence, you should get in contact with a qualified DUI attorney who can help you.