Drunk Driving Defense Laws in Washington

In Washington state, citizens are not permitted to drive a motor vehicle while they are under the influence of alcohol. To be illegal under Washington law, drivers must have had enough to be over the threshold for what constitutes drunk driving. This is not based on how an individual feels but on their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or being under the influence of an illegal drug.

For more information, find a knowledgeable Washington DUI defense attorney to help resolve your case.

Washington Drunk Driving Laws

In Washington state, drivers are prohibited from operating or being in actual physical control of a vehicle with a BAC of .08% or more or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, within two hours of driving. However, commercial drivers have a lower limit of .04% BAC, and drivers under 21 years old have an even lower limit of .02% BAC.

Implied Consent: Yes

Enhanced Penalties: BAC of .15% or more; driving while under the influence with a child in the car who is under the age of 16: causing serious bodily harm or death, prior convictions

Washington generally treats a DUI offense as a gross misdemeanor punishable by not less than 24 hours and not more than 364 days in jail. In some situations, the court may order a minimum of 15 days of electronic home monitoring or 90 days in a sobriety program. Additional penalties include $350 to $5,000 in fines and a 90-day license suspension period.

In Washington, the penalty for a second offense of driving while under the influence of alcohol is a mandatory minimum term of 30 to 364 days and 60 days of Electronic Home Monitoring (EHM). Alternatively, a judge can order 180 days electronic home monitoring or 120 days of 24/7 sobriety monitoring if the mandatory minimum imprisonment sentence would “impose a substantial risk to… [the individual’s] physical or mental well-being.”

A DUI becomes a felony or higher and comes with even more severe penalties if:

  • The driver has three or more previous convictions in 10 years; or
  • The driver has been convicted of vehicular homicide while under the influence
  • The driver has been convicted of vehicular assault while under the influence
  • The driver has been convicted of a comparable out-of-state felony offense

Anyone charged with a DUI in Washington can face other penalties including paying for a substance abuse assessment and having to install an ignition interlock device on their car. On a second offense within 7 years, a driver can also have their  vehicle seized and forfeited as a collateral penalty.

Washington DUI Defenses

After a DUI arrest, there are many defenses an experienced attorney may consider. Find an experienced criminal defense attorney in your local county in Washington who is familiar with the local system and can find the best way to handle your case.

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