What BTB Readers Need To Know About Washington’s DUI Penalties
by Tracy Codd
Defendants arrested for a first offense DUI in this state are subject to both pending criminal and administrative licensing penalties. The state of Washington employs a multi-tiered system for sentencing regarding DUI cases, with offenders possessing a BAC at or above .15 or those who refused to take a breath test facing harsher penalties than those with a BAC of .08 to .149. Likewise, violations such as refusals to submit or associated criminal charges related to a given DUI arrest may incur additional administrative or criminal penalties.
Department of Licensing Administrative Penalties
- Upon arrest, drivers facing first offense DUI charges face mandatory license suspension of at least ninety (90) days. If BAC in excess of .15, drivers face license suspension of up to one (1) year, unless otherwise successfully contested at the administrative hearing
- Attempts to reinstate may require use of ignition interlock device, pending the case-specific nature of the court’s sentencing in first offense cases
- Likewise, attempts to reinstate following suspension require SR-22 insurance coverage in Washington
- First offense convictions carry mandatory incarceration of one (1) day; two (2) days for offenders with BAC in excess of .15%. Maximum incarceration in either case cannot exceed one (1) year.
- State of Washington courts may employ a form of community control, known as electronic home monitoring, in lieu of mandatory incarceration for a period of fifteen (15) days or thirty (30) days, depending on BAC of driver.
- Alcohol assessment or substance abuse treatment possible, but not required in every case.
- Fines at a minimum of $865.50 to maximum of $5,000 for offenders with BAC below .15%. Offenders with BAC above .15% face fines of at least $1,120.50, but not more than $5,000. Fines do not include costs related to completion of sentence or reinstatement of license
- The Washington DUI Deferred Prosecution is a program that allows a person suffering from alcoholism, drug addiction, or a mental health problem to petition the court to enter an intensive treatment program in lieu of being prosecuted for DUI. Successful completion of the Deferred Prosecution, treatment program and compliance with other court imposed conditions will result in dismissal of the DUI and may avoid a suspension of driver’s license by the Department of Licensing. The Deferred Prosecution law allows an individual to petition the court for deferral of their case for five years while they seek treatment for their disease. If the request is granted the advantages of the Deferred Prosecution are clear:
- No jail?* No criminal fine?* Removal of a DUI conviction from criminal record after five years (but still considered a prior offense for sentencing purposes on a later charge)?* No license suspension (if submitted to BAC breath test)?* No SR-22 high risk insurance
- Most importantly, participants are given an opportunity to overcome their disease and regain control of their lives. The required two-year substance addiction treatment program is quite rigorous and occurs in three phases. Additionally, two Alcoholics Anonymous or other self-help meetings per week are required for the full two years, and can be required for the entire five year period. The DUI defendant is also placed on supervised probation, which means that they may be required to meet on a regular basis with a probation officer and must pay for those services. Additionally, the Deferred Prosecution requires installation of the Ignition Interlock Device for at least one year.
A full and complete description of the DUI laws can be found in Title 46 of the Revised Code of Washington at www.apps.leg.wa.gov.
Getting Legal Advice
For more information and insight into your legal rights and options in your first DUI in Washington, including your options for negotiating a favorable result or outright dismissal of the charges, consult with an experienced, competent Washington DUI lawyer to learn more.
W. Tracy Codd, a B-Town Blog Advertiser, is an attorney with office in Burien who has represented individuals accused of DUI since 1987. His telephone number is (206) 248-6152. Call today for a free consultation. He can also be reach through his website at www.tracycodd.com.
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