Washington State DUI Penalties:
Under the Washington State statute, a judge must impose jail time upon a conviction for DUI. The length of the sentence depends upon the number of prior convictions, the results of the breath test, and/or whether the driver refused the breath test. A DUI is often the most egregious offense that can be committed at the District/Municipal court level in Washington State. The maximum jail time possible for a misdemeanor DUI is one (1) year in custody. The judge may consider what are described as aggravating factors, and these factors may result in a longer sentence than the mandatory minimum required by law. Some possible examples of aggravating factors are:
The number of prior criminal convictions (in addition to DUI convictions);
Whether an accident was involved in the current case; and/or
If there were passengers in the vehicle.
In order to determine the mandatory minimum sentence, and attorney must know your prior criminal history, if any, as well as your current breath test reading.
Prior DUI Offenses
Prior DUI offenses include not only Washington State convictions, but also any convictions which were originally charged as a DUI then later negotiated to a lesser charge. For example, a prior DUI that was reduced to a Negligent Driving charge, would still be considered a prior DUI offense if it occurred within the last seven (7) years.
The Breath Test (or Refusal)
Typically, the mandatory minimum sentences are longer if a person refuses to submit to the breath test. If a breath test is taken, the mandatory minimum sentences are also longer if the test reading is .15 or higher.
Penalties and Consequences
Breath Test Under .15 (No Prior Offenses)
Minimum Jail: 24 consecutive hours (1 Full Day in Jail);
Minimum Fine: $866.00 (+ court costs, conviction fees and assessments);
License Suspension: 90 day license suspension;
Ignition Interlock: 1 year ignition interlock license required.
Breath Test Above .15 or Refusal (No Prior Offenses)
Minimum Jail: 48 consecutive hours (2 Full Days in Jail);
Minimum Fine: $1,120.00 (+ court costs, conviction fees and assessments);
License Suspension: 1 year license suspension (with breath test) or 2 year license suspension (if refusal);
Ignition Interlock: 1 year ignition interlock license required.
If there are prior convictions, there are mandatory minimums which result in additional time in custody, as well as longer license suspensions.
Jail Time or Fines Beyond Original Sentence
Most courts will assign a probation officer to monitor the client’s case and ensure their compliance with the conditions of the court’s sentence. The fees associated with probation supervision vary among jurisdictions, and depending upon the length of probation, may prove extremely expensive.
If a case results in a conviction, a person will be required to obtain a Drug and Alcohol Evalaution with a State Certified Chemical Dependency Treatment Agency, and provide written proof to the court and to the probation officer that the treatment program is being followed.
If a person is on active probation, the person convicted may be required to submit to random urinalysis testing and/or breath tests to ensure compliance with drug and alcohol programs and to confirm no illegal drug use.
If, during the period of probation, a person violates any of the conditions of their sentence, the probation officer may schedule a review hearing to determine whether or not the court should revoke any of the person’s suspended sentence.
Entering Canada with
a DUI Charge on Record
One of the relatively unknown consequences of a DUI conviction is the impact the conviction may have on one’s ability to travel to Canada. Canada views a DUI conviction, or even a DUI that has been amended to a reduced charge, very differently that the United States. In Washington State, a DUI carries a maximum penalty of 365 days in jail and a $5,000.00 fine. However, in Canada, a DUI allegations is deemed a hybrid offense. As such, it may be considered either an “indictable offense” (Felony), or one that could be prosecuted as a “summary conviction offense” (Misdemeanor).
The legislation that determines and restricts any non Canadian from entry and travel into Canada is called the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Act. Under this law, no person who has committed an “indictable offense” may enter Canada, unless they are deemed rehabilitated. If the crime under Washington Law has a counterpart in the Canadian Criminal Code (CCC), the CCC determines a person’s eligibility. If the crime translates to a felony under the CCC, then the individual may be excluded from entry to Canada for a period set forth under Canadian Law. Because under Canadian Law a DUI charge can be prosecuted as a felony, non Canadian citizens may be barred for a minimum of ten (10) years unless they are otherwise deemed rehabilitated. If a DUI charge is reduced, the final resolution of the case may be helpful for purposes of entering Canada. However, it is important to ensure an attorney is aware of the effect of these consequences and discusses the options as they relate to travelling to Canada.
Washington State Department of
Licensing Suspension for DUI
Your license may be suspended in one of two ways: Either through an administrative process with the Department of Licensing, or through the criminal process in the court room. The administrative process occurs with the Department of Licensing. It is important to contact an attorney immediately after an officer has requested you provide a breath test. This is important because under most situations, your license will automatically be suspended, unless a hearing request is made in a timely manner. Under most circumstances, you only have twenty (20) days to make this request, so speaking with an attorney immediately is extremely important. Our office provides representation at the Department of Licensing Hearing, as well as representation in the criminal matter.
License Suspension and
Requirements for Relicensing.
90 Day License Suspension
(BAC .08 or higher with no prior DUI administrative suspensions):
If your license is suspended for 90 days, you may be eligible to apply for an ignition interlock license, but Department of Licensing will not issue the license unless the vehicle you drive is equipped with an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). In addition, you must also file proof of financial responsibility (SR22 Insurance) with the Department of Licensing as a prerequisite to the issuance of an IID License. SR22 Insurance is required for three (3) years following reinstatement of your license.
One Year License Suspension
(Refusal to take the breath test with prior DUI administrative suspensions):
Your license is suspended for one year if you refuse to take a breath test. You may be eligible to apply for an ignition interlock license, but Department of Licensing will not issue the license unless the vehicle you drive is equipped with an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). In addition, you must also file proof of financial responsibility (SR22 Insurance) with the Department of Licensing as a prerequisite to the issuance of an IID License. SR22 Insurance is required for three (3) years following reinstatement of your license.
Two Year License Suspension
(Second DUI administrative suspension within 7 years):
Your license is suspended for 2 years. However, you are eligible for an ignition interlock license. license, but Department of Licensing will not issue the license unless the vehicle you drive is equipped with an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). In addition, you must also file proof of financial responsibility (SR22 Insurance) with the Department of Licensing as a prerequisite to the issuance of an IID License. SR22 Insurance is required for three (3) years following reinstatement of your license. Further, to fully reinstate your license, you will need to retake the driver’s testing and pay a reinstatement fee.
SR22 (High Risk) Insurance
SR22 Insurance is required for drivers who, by statute, pose a high risk to the safety of the community. Premiums are typically much higher than standard insurance. You will be required to maintain this more expensive insurance for a period of 3 years following a DUI conviction. You also are required to have SR22 Insurance if you suffer an administrative license suspension at the hands of Department of Licensing, even if you are acquitted of the DUI charge in criminal court.