The offense of DUI in the State of Washington is classified as a gross misdemeanor, and it’s punishable by a fine not to exceed $5,000 and a year in jail. Regardless of whether you’re a first offender, the legislature has set minimum penalties that judges must impose. They have no discretion to sentence anybody to anything below the mandatory minimum sentence, but they certainly have the discretionary authority to sentence somebody on the higher end of the sentencing statute. Whether you’ve had a prior DUI conviction is of critical importance in Washington DUI sentencing. Courts look back seven years for that prior conviction. The prior convictions that they look for consist of:
- Driving under the influence
- Being under physical control of a vehicle while under the influence
- Vehicular homicide committed while under the influence
- Vehicular assault committed while under the influence
If you successfully completed the terms of a deferred prosecution DUI plea agreement on any of the above charges or even a lesser charge that spun off of a DUI arrest, you still fall under the purview of the seven year rule.
Mandatory DUI driver’s license suspensions
If you’re clear looking back over the seven past years, and you had a blood alcohol content of less than .15 or no breath testing, expect to receive a 90 day driver’s license suspension as part of your sentence. If the Department of Licensing hasn’t already suspended your license, your judge will order that it be done. If your blood alcohol content was above .15, the suspension is for one year. If you refused testing, the suspension is for two years.
Second offense in seven years
With a blood alcohol content below .15 or no testing, the suspension is for two years. If testing revealed a blood alcohol content of .15 or above, a 30 month suspension results. A refusal gets a three year suspension.
Third offense in seven years
A person with a blood alcohol level below .15 or no testing takes a mandatory license suspension of three years for his or her third offense in seven years. A blood alcohol level at .15 or above or a refusal nets a suspension of four years.
The ignition interlock license
So does a driver in Washington State lose his or her driver’s license after a DUI conviction? The answer is technically yes, but it’s also technically no. People who have been convicted of a DUI can drive if they’ve applied for and been issued an ignition interlock driver’s license by the Department of Licensing. They’re responsible for all costs of leasing, installing, maintaining and removing the device. If you’re required to have one of these devices, the cost of owning a vehicle and driving it just went up exponentially. Only ignition interlock devices that have been approved by the Washington State Patrol are permitted. It could take two to three weeks for the Department of Licensing to process an application. Timing is everything if you want a seamless transition from a license suspension to an interlock ignition license. Depending on the seven year looking back period and the number of DUIs a person has had, a defendant might be required to use an ignition interlock device for up to 10 years.
Note that ignition interlock changes in different states. This article explains how it differs in Texas vs Washington State.
Washington has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country. A DUI can affect your driver’s license, insurance rates and employment for many years.
Please note, this article does not constitute legal advice. If you are seeking a Washington DUI Lawyer please see some of these top rated attorneys and sites in Washington: