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Washington DUI or DWI



It is illegal to drive a car, truck, boat, motorcycle or any other motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs in Washington state. Driving under the influence (known as DUI) is a crime in Washington.

In other states, driving under the influence may also be known as driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), operating under the influence (OUI) or operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI).

Washington DUI laws limit the amount of alcohol a person can have in his bloodstream—known as the blood alcohol content or BAC—while operating a motor vehicle. The current BAC limit in Washington state is .08 percent, which is the equivalent of .08 g of alcohol per 100 ml of blood.

How Do Washington Police Know If You're Driving Under the Influence?

If police in Washington believe you might be driving under the influence, the police can stop you and administer a field sobriety test.

During a field sobriety test in Washington, you may be asked to:

  • Stand on one foot with your arms at your side
  • Walk in a straight line, placing the heel of one foot directly in front of the toes of your other foot, then turn and walk back to the police officer
  • Track a moving object with your eyes while keeping your head still

How Do Police in Washington State Determine Your Blood Alcohol Content?

Based on your field sobriety test, the police officer may have probable cause to arrest you under suspicion of driving under the influence. Police may subsequently administer a breathalyzer test, a blood test or a urine test to measure your blood alcohol content.

If you refuse to take a BAC test, Washington laws require officials to automatically suspend your license for at least one year.

Washington law enforcement officials do not necessarily need BAC test results to charge you with driving under the influence. They can charge you with DUI in Washington State even if your BAC test results are under the legal threshold for driving under the influence. You can be convicted of driving under the influence in Washington based on other evidence that demonstrates you were unable to safely drive your motor vehicle.

A Washington DUI attorney can help you understand the charges against you.

What Are the Penalties for Driving Under the Influence in Washington State?

Factors affecting DUI charges in Washington include:

  • Whether you have any prior DUI convictions in Washington
  • Whether you were in an accident or speeding while intoxicated
  • Whether there was a child in the car with you while you were intoxicated
  • Whether your BAC was excessively high
  • Whether you were driving on a suspended license

If convicted of DUI in Washington, you may face penalties including:

  • Jail time
  • Fines
  • License suspension
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device
  • Enrollment in an alcohol and/or drug education program

In addition, your motor vehicle insurance rates will almost certainly increase following a Washington DUI conviction.

If you have been charged with driving under the influence in Washington State, a Washington DUI lawyer in your area can help you attempt to negotiate lesser charges, defend you in court and appeal a conviction, if necessary.

Additional Washington State Driving Under the Influence Resources

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's guide to impaired driving & selected beverage control laws

Washington State Department of Licensing DUI information

Guide to Understanding Blood Alcohol Concentration & Alcohol Impairment

Washington State Department of Licensing information about ignition interlock devices

Lawyers.com guide to DUI DWI defenses

Washington DUI sentencing information

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's summary of DUI/DWI laws

Lawyers.com's driving while intoxicated frequently asked questions