A conviction of driving under the influence, or DUI, can have serious consequences under Washington law. A single conviction can lead to jail time, a fine, and license suspension. The law allows longer sentences and bigger fines for subsequent convictions. Defending against a charge of DUI requires careful review of the state’s evidence as well as the defendant’s prior record. If you have been charged with alleged DUI, a skilled Washington DUI attorney can help you prepare a defense that challenges the prosecutors’ accusations and protects your rights.
Conviction of DUI
Washington law defines DUI as the operation of a car or other motor vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol. Police often collect evidence of intoxication through blood or breath tests. If a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) tests at 0.08 percent or higher within two hours of driving, the law treats that as a DUI offense. In determining a sentence after a conviction for DUI, a judge must consider the defendant’s BAC, if that information is available, and any prior DUI offenses.
Sentencing with No Prior DUI Offenses
For a first offense, the sentence depends on the defendant’s BAC when available. If the defendant’s BAC was below 0.15 percent, the court may sentence the defendant to anywhere between one day and one year in jail. It may impose a fine between $350 and $5,000. If BAC was 0.15 percent or higher, the jail sentence must be between two days and one year, and the fine must be between $500 and $5,000.
Sentencing with One Prior DUI Offense
For a second offense, a defendant with a BAC below 0.15 percent may receive a jail sentence of at least thirty days, plus up to one year and sixty days of home monitoring at the defendant’s expense. The fine may be between $500 and $5,000. With a BAC of 0.15 percent and up, the sentence must be at least ninety days, plus up to one year and ninety days of home monitoring. The fine must be between $750 and $5,000.
Sentencing with Two to Three Prior DUI Offenses
For a third or fourth offense, with a BAC below 0.15 percent, the jail sentence must be at least ninety days, with up to one year and 120 days of home monitoring; and the fine is between $1,000 and $5,000. A BAC of 0.15 percent or more could lead to a jail sentence of at least 120 days and a maximum one year and 150 days of home monitoring, along with a fine of $1,500 to $5,000.
Sentencing with Four or More Prior DUI Offenses
For a fifth offense, and any subsequent offense, the law treats it as a class C felony, with a sentence of up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Sentencing with Other Prior Offenses
A defendant with a prior conviction for either vehicular homicide or vehicular assault while under the influence may also face sentencing for a class C felony.
A DUI conviction can bring significant and long-lasting penalties, so a defendant should seek the help of an attorney who knows Washington’s legal system. Washington DUI lawyer Timothy L. Healy has represented defendants charged with alleged DUI offenses in Tacoma, Pierce County, and elsewhere in Washington state for over fifteen years. He has achieved plea agreements, reduced sentences, dismissals, and acquittals for his clients. Contact us today online or at (888) 312-3093 to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a member of our team.