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Demystifying Washington DUI Laws

DUI stands for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A DUI is a serious offense that can subject you to harsh consequences including the suspension of your driver’s license, fines, and jail time. If you are arrested for a DUI in Washington, you stand to face administrative penalties with the Department of Licensing in Washington, and criminal punishment in court.

 

Why You Need A DUI Defense Lawyer

In some DUI cases, an arraignment will occur one day after you are arrested. During the hearing, the judge decides if you are to remain in custody or if you can post bail while waiting for trial. In other cases, the arraignment does not occur until a few weeks after you are arrested. In any case, it is advisable to hire a lawyer early because you will need to be represented at license suspension hearings. The license suspension hearings take place within two months of your arrest. Your lawyer will help you file your request to fight a license suspension within the statutory limit of 20 days from the time of your arrest. Furthermore, your lawyer will be instrumental in presenting a strong case to avoid or reduce the penalties that you are likely to face in court.

 

Qualifications for DUIs in Washington

According to Washington State Laws, you are guilty of a DUI if:

  • Your alcohol concentration is .08 or above within 2 hours after driving
  • You are under 21, and your blood alcohol content reading is .02
  • You are driving a commercial automobile, and your blood alcohol content reading is .04
  • You are driving while affected by marijuana, alcohol or any other drug

The State of Washington does not allow “legal entitlement” as a defense for a DUI. Furthermore, if you claim that you used the substance after driving, you are likely to be convicted since you are required to present “preponderance of evidence” before the pretrial hearing, and it ‘s hard to provide such evidence.

If your breath/blood samples are taken over two hours after driving, and the reading is above 0.00, this can work against you as evidence that you were influenced by alcohol or drugs when driving.

 

Penalties for DUI in Washington

 

A first DUI offense (or a first offense committed within seven years) is regarded as a misdemeanor that involves the following punishment:

A blood alcohol content reading below 0.15 amounts to:

  • A driver’s license suspension of 90 days
  • Imprisonment of almost one year
  • A fine ranging from $940-$5,000

A blood alcohol content reading above 0.15 amounts to:

  • 1-2 years drivers license suspension
  • Imprisonment of nearly a year
  • A fine ranging from $1195-$5000

 

Prior offenses result in higher fines, longer license suspensions, and longer imprisonment. You may also stand to pay an additional fine if there was a passenger who was below 16 years in your vehicle.

You may get a felony DUI conviction leading to imprisonment if:

  • You have four or more prior convictions within the last ten years
  • You have been previously convicted of vehicular assault or vehicular homicide while influenced by intoxicants or alcohol in Washington or another state.

If you are found guilty of a felony DUI, you stand to pay a penalty of up to $10,000 and face an imprisonment of five years.