DUI Law in Washington
What is a DUI?
Are you facing a costly DUI in Washington?
DUI, which refers to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, is a criminal offense that can lead to weighty consequences. Also known as DWI, the process of going to court to face either conviction or exoneration can change the course of your life forever.
Learn more about your DUI law defense options below, and then talk to a local attorney who will help you in this delicate situation. You don’t have to stare down consequences alone. You can take wise steps today to protect your interests.
Possible Consequences of a Washington DUI Conviction
Where you live, the severity of the incident, and your criminal record determine the sentencing for a DUI. The punishments can drastically increase if you have had previous DUIs, so be mindful of that. If this is your first DUI, do not go at it alone and risk costly mistakes. Get a Washington law firm on your side to fight for you and your rights.
Here are some of the possible high costs and common punishments you may experience if convicted following a DUI arrest.
If convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Washington, you can count on fines being a part of your sentencing. Washington DUI fines can range from $350 to $5,000. However, other factors can drastically increase the amount you must pay, including:
- Any damage to property while driving under the influence
- If someone suffered injuries as a result of your intoxicated driving
- Cases that include child endangerment
- Any court costs associated with your case
The fines you owe following a conviction can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on your case. Will you face costly jail time?
In several states, jail time is mandatory, even for first-time offenders. If this is your first DUI offense, you may only have to face a day or two in jail. But if you have previous convictions for DUIs, you can receive a sentence of several months to over a year in prison. Know that some circumstances can add even more time in a cell, including injury to other people while driving under the influence.
The Revised Code of Washington provides that your first three DUIs in Washington are charged as misdemeanors. Washington law mandates a minimum required sentence of 1 day for first time offenders. However, subsequent offenses require longer minimum jail times, ranging from 30 to 90 days. The maximum sentence for Washington misdemeanors is 1 year. However, fourth DUIs and above are classified as felonies, resulting in jail time ranging from 13 months to 5 years.
If you do not face jail time, you will likely be on probation, with the sentencing judge determining the duration. You will pay monthly fees, and you cannot commit any more criminal offenses, including traffic violations. If you violate the terms of your probation, count on facing time behind bars.
DUI probations in Washington are typically 5 years long. Under the Revised Code of Washington, the terms can include attending alcohol treatment appointments, DUI education, and victim panels. In addition, you may have to report to a probation officer, pay fees, or be electronically monitored. Violating the terms of your probation can result in having to serve any jail time that was initially suspended. Alternatively, you can be jailed for 30 days per violation.
Drug and Alcohol Education Program
Following a Washington DUI sentencing, the law states you must complete a drug and alcohol education program. This will teach you about the dangers of driving under the influence. These programs cost more fees besides the legal costs you already have to pay.
The education programs also include a DUI evaluation. An evaluator asks you questions about how alcohol and drugs affect your life. If they believe that you are dependent, you may have to enter a substance abuse treatment program before reinstating your license.
Suspension or Loss of License
No matter where you may face a DUI conviction, you have to undergo a license suspension period, at the very least. If it is your first DUI, you may have a license suspension for a few months while you go through probation and the drug and alcohol education program.
If this is not your first DUI, you may have your license suspended for much longer, or you could have it taken from you permanently.
What Should You Do When Charged With a DUI in Washington?
If you’re facing a felony DUI charge, you must take the following steps to protect yourself:
Step 1: Contact an Attorney Familiar With Washington DUI Law
Immediately following your DUI arrest, you need to contact an experienced Washington DUI attorney. Your attorney can help prepare for your arraignment and prepare a defense to vindicate yourself or reduce the sentencing.
Step 2: Learn About Your State’s DUI Laws
Each state, including Washington, has unique laws for DUI or DWI charges. Your lawyer will work with you to help you better understand your state’s laws on driving while intoxicated. It is critical to understand what charges you face and the potential outcomes of your case.
Step 3: Request a DMV Hearing
In Washington, you have a short amount of time to ask for a DMV hearing to keep your license leading up to your court appearance. If you do not request a hearing, prepare for a license suspension. You or your attorney should request a hearing as soon as possible following your arrest.
When you are arrested for a DUI in Washington, the Washington Department of Licensing will automatically suspend your license beginning 30 days after your arrest. However, you have 7 days after your arrest to request a hearing. The suspension can last anywhere from 90 days to 2 years, depending on your recorded blood alcohol level and any prior offenses.
Step 4: Prepare for Court Appearance
You and your attorney will prepare for your court appearance and arraignment. If you plead “not guilty,” your DUI defense attorney represents you in court, and a judge and jury oversee the DUI law case.
Step 5: Receive Sentencing or Exoneration
You will either be “not guilty” of the charges brought against you and walk free, or you will receive sentencing for a guilty verdict.
Work with an Experienced Local DUI Lawyer in Washington
Should you ever find yourself charged with a DUI, you need to work with an experienced Washington lawyer who can stand up for you in court. You cannot clear your name of the charges or reduce the consequences without help. Your life and future depend on having great legal representation during your DUI case. Contact an attorney near you in Washington today. We can even help you connect with legal help across Washington state lines.
Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!