What Happens When You Get A DUI in Washington?

Man distressed behind the wheel of a car

In the state of Washington, you could face a DUI charge if you operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) beyond a particular limit, depending on the circumstances. If you are 21 years of age or older, that limit is 0.08%; if you are younger than 21 years old, you can face a DUI if your BAC is 0.02% or higher. An additional caveat: if you are driving a commercial vehicle, you can face a DUI charge if your BAC is 0.04% or higher.

So what happens if are convicted of a DUI? You could face fines, license suspensions and jail time, depending on the circumstances of your case. There are, however, ways to defend against DUI charges and mitigate the punishment – if you are charged with a DUI, talk to an experienced attorney sooner than later to ensure your rights are protected.

Typically, for a first DUI conviction, you can face the following potential punishment:

  • Jail time of 1 day up to 364 days.
  • Fines up to $5,000.
  • 90 day driver’s license suspension.

If you’re BAC is elevated even higher, of 0.15% or higher, you can face the following:

  • Jail time of 2 days up to 364 days.
  • Fines up to $5,000.
  • 1 year driver’s license suspension.

Other factors can increase the potential punishment as well. For example, if you are driving with a minor passenger, under the age of 16, in the car at the time of the DUI, you may face harsher punishment.

In addition, if you refuse a chemical test to determine your blood alcohol concentration, you could face similar or even harsher punishments. If you refuse a BAC test, you could face punishment up to:

  • Jail time of 2 to 364 days.
  • Fines up to $5,000.
  • 2 year driver’s license suspension.

Keep in mind, if you do receive a license suspension, you may be able to drive under certain restrictions during the suspension. To qualify, you will need to apply for an ignition interlock driver’s license. If granted, you must abide by strict rules while driving with this type of license. Additionally, at the end of the suspension period, you may have to complete certain requirements to have your license reinstated. These can include:

  • Completing an alcohol and drug treatment education program.
  • Applying for reinstatement with the Washington Department of Licensing.
  • Pay a reinstatement fee.
  • Passing a driver’s license test.

DUI convictions can affect your freedom and your livelihood, particularly if your employment requires the ability to drive. Before making any decisions about how to move forward in a DUI case, talk with an experienced attorney to make sure you understand all of the consequences and your options.