All states have varying drunk driving laws. In Washington State, driving under the influence (DUI) laws are among the most strict and enforced in the nation. A driver can be arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and both offenses carry serious consequences including, loss of license, fines, and jail time.
If convicted of a DUI in Washington, you may receive criminal penalties in court and administrative penalties from the Department of Licensing (DOL). The DUI laws and penalties can vary depending on age, blood alcohol concentration, the number of previous offenses, etc. Continue reading as we break down the Washington State DUI laws and penalties.
BAC Levels in Washington
Most drivers assume you can only be charged with a DUI if your BAC is 0.08% or higher. Although this is somewhat true, the BAC level can actually vary depending on the circumstances. In Washington State, a driver can be charged with a DUI if their BAC is:
0.08%, for anyone 21 years and over
0.04%, for anyone driving a commercial vehicle
0.02%, for anyone younger than 21 years old
The penalties for your DUI charge can also depend on how high your BAC level is at the time of the arrest. Even if your BAC is under the legal limit, you may still be arrested for a DUI-related charge if the arresting law enforcement officer believes your ability to drive was appreciably affected by the alcohol or use of drugs.
When arrested for a DUI, you are likely to face penalties from both the court system and the DOL.
Penalties may result from:
The initial DUI arrest
A court conviction
DOL penalties after the DUI court conviction
DUI Penalties after the Initial Arrest
When arrested for a DUI, you will be sent a license suspension notice and the DOL will suspend your license for anywhere between 90 days and 2 years, depending on the condition of the arrest. The license suspension will begin 60 days after your DUI arrest.
After receiving your suspension notice, you will have 20 days to request an administrative hearing. The cost to request a hearing is a non-refundable fee of $375.
A few things may happen at this hearing. If the DOL rules in your favor, you will not face a license suspension from the DOL administratively. Remember, if the criminal charge is not reduced or dismissed, your license still can be suspended. Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that, although you may be cleared of a DUI through this administrative hearing, you can still be convicted of a DUI in court.
If convicted of a DUI in court, the penalties vary depending on a few different factors:
If your BAC was under 0.15%, penalties may include:
Driver license suspension of 90 days
1 day to 364 days in jail
Fines of $940 to $5,000
If your BAC was 0.15% or more OR you refused a blood alcohol test, penalties may include:
Drivers license suspension for 1 year for BAC or 2 years if the blood alcohol test was refused
2 to 364 days in jail
Fines of $1,195.50 to $5,000
If you have had more than one DUI conviction within the last 7 years, you could face increased penalties if you receive a criminal conviction in court.
Washington DOL Penalties After a Court Conviction
If convicted of a DUI, the court will notify the DOL. Depending on the circumstances, the DOL will then suspend your license for as little as 90 days and potentially up to 4 years.
If the DOL has already suspended your driver’s license as a consequence of the DUI arrest, the DOL will credit your suspension for that time.
Ignition Interlock Driver’s License
If your license is suspended but you wish to continue driving, you may apply for an ignition interlock driver’s license (ILL).
In order to apply for an ILL, you will need to:
Fill out and submit a Restricted Driver License Application
Have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle by a certified installer. The installer will send proof of installation to the DOL.
Provide proof of SR22 financial responsibility
Pay $100 application fee
Submit all documents to DOL
All fees and costs associated with the ignition interlock device and license are the driver’s responsibility. This includes installation, maintenance, and leasing fees. It typically takes DOL 3-5 business days to process the application.
Washington Driver’s License Reinstatement
Once your license suspension period is up and you have completed all court requirements, you will be able to apply for license reinstatement. Reinstatement requirements vary depending on circumstances and severity of the DUI but license reinstatement requirements can include:
Completion of drug and alcohol treatment and/or education program
Application submission through the DOL
Payment of reinstatement fee of $150
Knowing the DUI laws in Washington state can prevent you from getting arrested for a DUI, or help you fight a DUI if you have been arrested for one. Seattle DUI attorney, Matthew Leyba is the highest rated DUI attorney in Seattle according to Avvo.com. If you have been charged with a DUI in Seattle, contact Leyba Defense todayfor a free 60 minute no-pressure and completely confidential case consultation.