DUI Fifth Offense
Washington’s criminal laws deal harshly with the offense of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or “DUI,” and they impose progressively harsher penalties on people with multiple DUI convictions. Once a person has at least four DUI convictions during a ten-year period, the state charges subsequent DUI offenses as felonies rather than misdemeanors, with considerably higher potential jail time and fines. If you are facing a DUI charge, and you have at least four previous convictions for DUI in the past ten years, you need to consult a skilled and experienced Washington criminal defense lawyer immediately. We will review and evaluate the state’s evidence, including test results and witness statements, in order to prepare the best possible defense for you.
Driving Under the Influence
Driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or any sort of intoxicating drug is considered DUI under state law. The state can charge you with DUI even if the drug in question is from a legal doctor’s prescription, as long as the state can show that it impaired your ability to drive. Prosecutors may present any evidence that demonstrates impairment caused by drugs or alcohol. This includes testimony from an arresting officer or other individual who claims to have seen a defendant driving erratically or in an unsafe manner, and anyone who witnessed a defendant drinking or taking drugs close to the time of driving. Evidence of blood alcohol content (BAC) is also a common way to prove intoxication, and Washington law automatically defines driving with a BAC of 0.08 or higher as DUI. A DUI suspect usually may not be compelled to submit to a blood or breath test to determine BAC, but state law often takes BAC, or the refusal to do the test, into account when determining the sentence after a conviction.
Fifth Offense DUI
While most DUI offenses are gross misdemeanors in Washington, a fifth offense is a class C felony, provided that all four prior convictions occurred during the ten-year period before the alleged offense. A sixth DUI, and any subsequent DUI charges, are also considered class C felonies.
Penalties for Fifth DUI Offense, or Subsequent Offenses
A class C felony normally carries a maximum possible penalty of five years in state prison and/or a $10,000 fine. For a felony DUI conviction, the court may deviate from those guidelines, but it is also required to add certain provisions. A felony DUI conviction requires a course of alcohol or drug dependency treatment during the term of imprisonment, and the court may assess the costs of treatment against the defendant. The court may also revoke the defendant’s driver’s license for up to four years.
A Washington criminal defense attorney with knowledge of Washington’s criminal legal system can help you with your fifth DUI case by challenging the state’s evidence, interviewing and evaluating witnesses, working towards a plea negotiation or dismissal, and generally striving to minimize the case’s impact on your life. Timothy L. Healy has over fifteen years’ experience representing DUI defendants throughout Washington state, including Tacoma and Pierce County. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a member of our team, contact us today online or at (888) 312-3093.