DUI charges in Washington are very serious. If you have been charged with a DUI you could be facing extremely severe penalties including loss of your driver’s license, fines and jail time. DUIs may also affect your insurance rates and your ability to find employment.
People who act early get the best results. Speaking with an attorney at the earliest stages of a proceeding is extremely important because it ensures that you do not make poor legal decisions with potentially devastating and lasting consequences.
At Fields Law Office, we work hard to see each case from our client’s perspective. We take pride in giving responsive, individualized and professional representation. We take the time to learn how the outcome will impact our clients’ lives and use every resource to minimize the damage to their lives and promote a positive outcome.
In the State of Washington, a DUI is ranked as a Gross Misdemeanor. The maximum penalty for a DUI is a $5000 fine and up to 364 days in the county jail. The Washington Department of Licensing may also suspend your driver’s license, require an ignition interlock device (Blow-n-Go), require probation, an alcohol evaluation and more.
The penalty an individual may face for a DUI charge depends on a number of factors: a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC), the person’s history and the circumstances of the arrest.
Consequences of DUI Arrest: Two-Pronged
A DUI arrest will start a two-pronged process of state action: (1) the criminal courts and the prosecuting attorney may initiate Criminal Proceedings against you and (2) the Department of Licensing (DOL) will begin Administrative Proceedings.
DUIs have criminal penalty consequences in Washington. A DUI conviction may result in confinement in the county jail, being required to wear an “ankle bracelet” while on electronic home monitoring, mandatory installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your vehicle, alcohol/drug monitoring, fines, fees, probation or court supervision and other penalties.
Driving under the influence of marijuana is a crime in Washington state. When marijuana is involved, a blood THC level of 5 nanograms will establish that the driver was under the influence. While Washington allows medical marijuana use under limited circumstances, it is still a crime to drive after such use. 46.61.502
A deferred prosecution on a DUI case is governed by RCW 10.05.010
A person can have only one deferred prosecution per lifetime. RCW 10.05.010
Therefore, the decision whether to use that option must be carefully weighed. For this reason, it may not be advisable to enter a deferred prosecution on a first offense.
If you have been diagnosed as alcohol dependent, drug dependent or have certain mental health issues, you may be eligible for a deferred prosecution. RCW 10.05.020
A deferred prosecution requires probation for up to five (5) years and successful completion of all treatment and probation recommendations.
The entire program is intensive. You will be required to complete an extensive chemical dependency program and report to a probation officer. You will be required to pay for treatment and probation.
These requirements include:
Successful completion of a three-phase treatment program.
On deferred prosecution one must only drive a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device for 1, 5, or 10 years. The length of time will depend upon the number of times the DOL has required you to install an IID in the past.
Other Related Charges
Some of these charges are often considered “lesser included offenses” of a DUI.
Reckless driving is defined as driving a vehicle "in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property." RCW 46.61.500
Reckless driving is considered a serious criminal traffic offense in the State of Washington. As a gross misdemeanor, it carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $5,000.00 fine. If convicted of Reckless Driving in Washington the Department of Licensing will suspend the driver’s license for 30 days.
Reckless driving convictions usually result from cases originally charged as DUI.
Negligent Driving in the First Degree is defined as driving in a "manner that is both negligent and endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property, and exhibits the effects of having consumed liquor or marijuana or any drug or exhibits the effects of having inhaled or ingested any chemical, whether or not a legal substance, for its intoxicating or hallucinatory effects." RCW 46.61.5249
Negligent Driving in the First Degree is a misdemeanor with a punishment of up to 90 days in jail, and a $1000 fine. However, if one has certain prior charges (usually alcohol/drug related), the court may require installation of an ignition interlock device on all vehicles operated. RCW 46.20.720
Negligent Driving in the Second Degree is ranked as a civil traffic infraction; it is not a criminal law violation. However, this is the type of infraction that may have significant insurance consequences.
Negligent Driving in the Second Degree is defined as under circumstances not constituting negligent driving in the first degree, operating a "motor vehicle in a manner that is both negligent and endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property." RCW 46.61.525
Negligent Driving in the Second Degree is a traffic infraction with a penalty of a $250 fine. The court may require installation of an ignition interlock device on all vehicles operated. RCW 46.61.525
Negligent Driving in the Second Degree – Vulnerable User is defined as operating a motor vehicle "under circumstances not constituting negligent driving in the first degree, he or she operates a vehicle, in a manner that is both negligent and endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property, and he or she proximately causes the death, great bodily harm, or substantial bodily harm of a vulnerable user of a public way." RCW 46.61.526
"Vulnerable user of a public way" means:
(i) A pedestrian;
(ii) A person riding an animal; or
(iii) A person operating any of the following on a public way:
(A) A farm tractor or implement of husbandry, without an enclosed shell;
(B) A bicycle;
(C) An electric-assisted bicycle;
(D) An electric personal assistive mobility device;
(E) A moped;
(F) A motor-driven cycle;
(G) A motorized foot scooter; or
(H) A motorcycle.
Negligent Driving in the Second Degree – Vulnerable User is a traffic infraction with a penalty of a minimum $1000 fine and a 90-day driver's license suspension. RCW 46.61.526
Reckless endangerment is defined as recklessly engaging "in conduct not amounting to a drive-by shooting but that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person." RCW 9A.36.050
Reckless Endangerment is a gross misdemeanor with a punishment of up to 364 days in jail, and a $5000 fine. No IID requirement or license suspension. RCW 9A.36.050
The Washington Department of Licensing WA-DOL will be notified if you are arrested for a DUI. Theses administrative proceedings may result in losing your driving privileges. Your license may be suspended or revoked. If you need to keep driving you may be eligible for an Ignition Interlock License.
An Ignition Interlock Driver License (IIL) allows you to drive a vehicle while your license is suspended or revoked for a drug or alcohol–related offense.
You must pay the DOL a $100 fee for the application, as well as a monthly fee of $20 to help defray the cost for indigent citizens. You will also need to have an ignition interlock on any vehicle you drive and SR 22 insurance before you can apply.
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