You only had a couple of drinks, and since it wasn’t more than you are normally able to handle, you decided you could drive yourself home — after all, it’s been over an hour since you had your last drink, so you should be good, right?
Getting your first DUI can be a confusing experience, especially if you’re someone who hasn’t had a run in with the law before. While this event can feel isolating, the first thing to understand is that you’re not alone — our DUI defense team has years of experience representing first-time DUIs and is ready to help you in this stressful time.
To get you started, we’ve written a library of DUI resources to help you understand what you can expect to happen if this is the first time you’ve received a DUI.
How Do You Get A First Offense DUI?
You may get a DUI if you are driving while having a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of .08% or more, having five nanograms or more of THC (usually from marijuana) per millimeter of blood, or if it is ruled that your ingestion of alcohol or drugs reduced your ability to drive a motor vehicle.
Maximum THC & BAC Levels For Underage Motorists
If you’re an underage driver (under 21 years old), then it is illegal for you to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of .02% or greater. If you are underage, it is also illegal to drive with any amount of THC in your system.
First Offense DUI Punishments In Washington
If this is your first time getting a DUI, then there are mandatory minimum punishments which Washington State imposes. The severity of these consequences depends on the level of alcohol or THC in your system when you were pulled over and whether or not you refused to take police-requested testing.
Minimum Jail Times For A First Time DUI In Washington
For a breath or blood testing coming in under .15%, you are required to spend 24 consecutive hours in jail or be detained at home for 15 days.
Minimum Fines For A First Time Offense
If you’re found to have a BAC of .15% or less, then you will face a minimum fine of $350 plus additional court costs that could amount to $1,500.
Minimum License Suspension For A First Time DUI
If you were caught driving with a BAC of .15% or less, then your driver’s license will be suspended for a minimum of 90 days.
While these punishments may seem severe, remember that these are only the minimum consequences of being caught driving under the influence in Washington State. If your actions on the road put other people in danger or threatened property, or if you broke additional laws while driving drunk, then you could be facing much more extreme punishments.
Additional Consequences Of A First Time DUI
Besides the standard minimum punishments listed above, there are other consequences you could incur depending on your situation.
You May Have To Do Community Service
Community service hours are a frequent punishment for first time DUIs. Depending on the judge, you may have to complete somewhere between 24 and 100 community service hours in your city. These could be spent working with anti-drunk driving associations, doing volunteer work for charities, or cleaning up streets and highways.
A DUI Will Change Your Car Insurance Policy
A DUI will almost certainly increase your car insurance rates. And depending on which insurance company you use, there is the possibility that they may cancel your policy completely. Another thing to be aware of is that insurance companies usually exclude coverage for damages that come from you committing a felony. Since DUIs are a felony, this means that your insurance won’t cover any damage done to you or your vehicle if the damage occurred while you were driving drunk.
A First Offense DUI Could Open You To Civil Lawsuits
If you struck another driver or hurt anyone or any property while you were driving drunk, then you could be sued for damages from those individuals. Depending on the severity of their injuries, you could easily be facing a civil lawsuit upwards of $100,000 should the injured party decide to sue you.
Consequences For Minors
If you are a minor who has been caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, then you are facing the possibility of up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. You could also face separate charges for drinking underage and any other criminal behavior committed during the time of your intoxication.
Don’t Face Your First DUI Alone
Receiving your first DUI is an extremely intimidating experience and the legal road ahead is complicated. There is hope though! By working with a skilled DUI attorney you may be able to reduce your minimum punishments and keep a DUI off your criminal record.