In Washington, driving under the influence is a serious violation of the law. Since this is a “per se” state, a driver over the age 21 or older, arrested for DUI, with a breath or blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent, may be convicted of DUI, even if the driver did not feel impaired. For a driver under the age of 21, the “per se” level required for conviction is .02 BAC, and for a commercial vehicle driver, .04 BAC.
Your first concern after being released may be about your license. First, you should know that as long as your license has not been suspended or revoked for some other reason, you still may drive for 59 days after your arrest (longer possibly if you took a blood test). Please review the paperwork given to you (by the officer) for requesting a hearing to keep your license.
You have only 20 days to request a hearing. This can be done online with the department of licensing (DOL) or by mail. If you do not request a hearing within this time, your license will be automatically suspended (or revoked) 60 days after your arrest (unless you submitted to blood testing). This is known as an administrative license suspension or revocation. The duration is:
We recommend that you mail the hearing request close to the deadline (the 19th day following the date of your arrest), and don’t forget to include a check, money order, or completed fee waiver form. We also recommend that you hire a lawyer. Non-lawyers are not aware of legal and technical arguments that may persuade a hearing officer from DOL to find in favor of the driver. In fact, most lawyers do not know these arguments—unless they are experienced, knowledgeable DUI lawyers who handle these hearings on a frequent basis.
The “administrative” suspension or revocation is separate from any you may receive if convicted of DUI in court. For example, a person who has a first offense within 7 years but refused testing will only have his or her license revoked for a year by DOL, but the court will impose a total of two years upon conviction. These terms are run “concurrently” meaning that DOL will give a person day-for-day credit for any suspension or revocation imposed by the court or vice versa.
First offense DUI jail penalty. If this is your first DUI offense (within 7 years), and you are convicted, you will have to serve no less than one day, but no more than 364 days, in jail. The court may permit you to do 15 days of electronic home monitoring instead of jail for a first offense within 7 years with a BAC of under .15 or, 30 days EHM in lieu of 2 days in jail for a first offense within 7 years if with a BAC of .15 and higher or if you refused testing.
Second offense DUI jail penalty. For a second DUI conviction within 7 years, there is a minimum of 30 or 45 days in jail—depending on the BAC level or refusal. Additionally, a required term of electronic home monitoring—60 days or 90 days—depending on the BAC level or refusal, will be imposed.
Third of fourth offense DUI penalty. For a third or fourth DUI conviction within 7 years, with a BAC under .15 the court must impose 90 days in jail minimum and 120 days on EHM; for a BAC of .15 or higher or refusal of testing, 120 days in jail minimum and 150 days EHM. A fifth DUI within 7 years is a felony, and will likely result in the offender being incarcerated in prison for up to five years.
A DUI can be very expensive. If convicted, you have to pay mandatory fines, costs, and assessments that can range from a minimum of $941 to over $8,000. This does not include probation fees, which can run up to $50 per month for up to five years. You will also have to have an ignition interlock device installed, maintained, and functioning on any vehicle you drive, for at least one year. Chemical dependency treatment, if required, can cost thousands of dollars, although those not diagnosed as dependent may only be required to take an alcohol/drug class and attend a MADD DUI victim impact session, costing approximately $150.00.
We work hard to help our clients avoid these serious penalties, fines and consequences, by attacking the evidence the prosecution wants to use against you. In the vast majority of our cases, we are able to negotiate a reduction to a less-serious, less-costly resolution of the case. Our DUI defense attorneys in Washington are standing by on call to answer your questions and explain how we can help, even in the most serious of cases.
Please contact us now—the sooner you do, the sooner you’ll feel better.