Driving under the influence in Washington is a serious risk to public safety. People in the state who operate motor vehicles while high or drunk pose a threat to other motorists, pedestrians and others in public. They can cause accidents that result in damage to property, personal injuries and loss of life.
To protect as many people in the public as possible, Washington lawmakers implement a number of mandates that prohibit drivers from taking to the roadways while inebriated. Drivers can avoid getting a DUI in Washington by knowing what the legal blood alcohol content limits are and what kinds of penalties go along with a DUI conviction in Washington.
DUI in Washington
Driving under the influence has several definitions in Washington. The per se definition is driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content or BAC of 0.08 percent or higher.
However, other definitions under the law in Washington for DUI include:
- Having a blood THC or marijuana level of 5.0 millimeters or higher
- Being under the influence of an intoxicating drug or alcohol
- Being under the influence of a combination of alcohol and drugs
The 0.08 percent limit applies to drivers who are 21 years of age and older in Washington. It also applies to the operating of privately owned vehicles including recreational vehicles like mopeds and motorboats.
The per se definition does not apply to commercial drivers or drivers who hold CDLs. They can be arrested for DUI if they have a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher.
Underage drivers also can be arrested for DUI in Washington. The legal BAC limit for underage drivers, those under 21 years of age, is under 0.02 percent.
DUI Penalties in Washington
The penalties in Washington for DUI depend on the number of prior DUIs that a person has on his or her driving or criminal record. They also depend on the level of an offender’s BAC at the time of his or her arrest.
For the sake of determining penalties for DUI, the state of Washington has a look back period of seven years. This period means that DUIs that occurred more than seven years ago cannot be considered when deciding on the penalties for a current DUI charge.
With that, a first-time DUI conviction in Washington garners penalties like:
- A fine of $350 to $1000
- One to 364 days in jail
- 15 days of house arrest
- 90 days in an inpatient treatment program in lieu of house arrest
The penalties are increased if the offender is found guilty of an enhanced or aggravated DUI. This charge applies if the person’s BAC was 0.15 percent or higher at the time of his or her arrest. The penalties for an enhanced DUI include:
- One to 364 days in jail
- Fines of $500 to $5000
- 30 days of house arrest in lieu of jail time
- 120 days in an inpatient program in lieu of house arrest
A second DUI conviction in Washington results in:
- A fine of $500 to $5000
- 30 days to 364 days in jail
- 180 days of house arrest
- 120 days in a 24/7 treatment program
An aggravated second-time DUI conviction results in a fine of $750 to $5000, 45 to 364 days in jail, six months of house arrest or 120 days in a treatment program.
Third DUI convictions in Washington lead to penalties of 90 to 364 days in jail, six months in a sobriety program, and fines of $1000 to $5000. An enhanced DUI leads to 120 to 364 days in jail, $1500 to $10,000 in fines, six months in treatment and 150 days in house arrest.
License Sanctions for DUI in Washington
DUI offenders in Washington can also have their licenses suspended in addition to other DUI penalties. A first-time DUI offender can have his or her license for 90 days for a standard DUI and up to one year for an aggravated DUI conviction.
A second DUI results in a two-year suspension or 900 days for an aggravated conviction. A third DUI results in a revocation of three years or four years for an aggravated DUI conviction.
During their license suspension or revocation period, drivers can apply for a restricted license. However, they must comply with using an ignition interlock device or IID on all of their vehicles.
Washington outlaws the act of driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol or a combination of either. The crime results in harsh penalties like jail time and expensive fines. Drivers also can lose their licenses and be compelled to use IIDs on their vehicles.