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Things to Know if Charged With Drunk Driving in Washington



Whether you live in Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane or elsewhere in Washington state, if you are charged with a DUI, you will want to learn about drunk driving Washington laws.

This article will explain things you need to know if arrested for a Washington State DUI.

The Basics of Drunk Driving Washington Laws

In Washington State, the crime of driving while drunk is known as DUI. This stands for driving under the influence.

You will be charged with DUI if your blood-alcohol content is .08 or higher. Blood-alcohol content, or BAC, is the measurement of alcohol in your blood. A BAC of .08 means that your blood contains eight one-hundredths of a percent of alcohol.

If you are under the age of 21, this BAC threshold drops considerably. Minors who have a BAC of .02 or more can be arrested for drunk driving. Washington State's zero-tolerance policy states that these underage drivers will automatically have their licenses suspended for 90 days.

The Washington State DUI Process

The Washington State DUI process begins once you are pulled over. A police officer may pull you over for a number of reasons, including:

  • Violation of a traffic law, such as speeding
  • Exhibiting suspicious driving behavior, such as weaving in and out of lanes

The officer may then administer a field sobriety test to see whether you are too impaired to drive. Examples of field sobriety tests include:

  • Standing on one foot
  • Following a light with your eyes while keeping your head and neck still
  • Walking in a straight line, turning and then walking back

If you do poorly on the field sobriety tests, the officer may arrest you for DUI.

You may then be asked to take a roadside breath test known as a breathalyzer. A breathalyzer can gauge your BAC by detecting the alcohol content of your breath. If your BAC is .08 or higher, you will be transported to the police station where you will undergo additional BAC testing.

If at any time you refuse to submit to BAC testing, your license will be revoked. Washington State's implied consent law say that all Washington State licensed drivers have given their consent to such tests as a condition of driving.

Washington State DUI Punishments

Washington has two tiers of punishments for drunk drivers. One bracket is reserved for those with BACs less than .15. The other bracket is for those with BACs equal to or greater than .15.

If you are first-time offender and have a BAC of less than .15, you may face the following penalties:

  • Jail time for a day to a year or 15 days of electronic home monitoring
  • Fines from $865.50 to $5,000
  • License suspension for 90 days

If you are a first-time offender and have a BAC of .15 or more, you may face the following penalties:

  • Jail time for two days to one year or 30 days of electronic home monitoring
  • Fines from $1,120.50 to $5,000
  • License suspension for one year

If you are a second-time offender and have a BAC under .15, you may face the following penalties:

  • Jail time for 30 days to one year and 60 days of electronic home monitoring
  • Fines from $1,120.50 to $5,000
  • License suspension for two years

If you are a second-time offender and have a BAC of .15 or greater, you may face the following penalties:

  • Jail time for 45 days to one year and 90 days of electronic home monitoring
  • Fines from $1,545.50 to $5,000
  • License suspension for 900 days

Those convicted of a third DUI with a BAC under .15 may face the following penalties:

  • Jail time for 90 days to one year and 120 days of electronic home monitoring
  • Fines from $1,970.50 to $5,000
  • License suspension for three years

Those convicted of a third DUI with a BAC greater than or equal to .15 may face the following penalties:

  • Jail time for 120 days to one year and electronic home monitoring for 150 days
  • Fines from $2,820.50 to $5,000
  • License suspension for four years

Hiring a Washington State DUI Attorney

If you have been arrested for DUI in Washington, you will want to seek out Washington DUI attorneys. Either you or someone you trust should spearhead the process of investigating potential DUI lawyers.

You can start your search by using a site like Attorneys.com. Just fill out the Attorneys.com online questionnaire, and the site will connect you with at least one Washington DUI lawyer in your area.

You can also ask friends and family members if they have used a Washington DUI lawyer in the past whom they could recommend.

Next, set up initial consultations with any attorneys you are interested in. This preliminary meeting is your chance to get to know the lawyer, tell him about your case and decide whether to hire him. Questions you should consider asking include:

  • How long has the attorney been handling Washington DUI cases?
  • Does he only handle Washington DUI cases? If not, how much of his workload is devoted to DUI cases?
  • Has he ever handled a case like yours?
  • What does he think of your case?
  • What fee arrangement does he use?

Once you are done speaking with the attorneys you are interested in, make a hiring decision.