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Washington State DUI Laws



DUI or “driving under the influence” in Washington State applies to any instance where a person operates a motor vehicle while "under the influence" of alcohol and/or any drug.  A “physical control” charge applies if a person is in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or any drug.  Physical Control is similar to a DUI and carries similar penalties.  When we refer here to “DUI” the information is generally going to be the same if the charge is physical control. 

The DUI statute is located at RCW 46.61.502:
(1) A person is guilty of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug if the person drives a vehicle within this state:

(a) And the person has, within two hours after driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher as shown by analysis of the person's breath or blood made under RCW 46.61.506; or

(b) While the person is under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor or any drug; or

(c) While the person is under the combined influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor and any drug.

Violation of this section is a gross misdemeanor, as is violation of the following section pertaining to Physical Control, RCW 46.61.504:
(1) A person is guilty of being in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug if the person has actual physical control of a vehicle within this state:

(a) And the person has, within two hours after driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher as shown by analysis of the person's breath or blood made under RCW 46.61.506; or

(b) While the person is under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor or any drug; or

(c) While the person is under the combined influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor and any drug.

Defenses apply to both the DUI and Physical Control charges.  At Callahan Law every client’s case is thoroughly investigated and the evidence scrutinized to see what defenses might apply.

Administrative (Civil) License Suspension or Revocation (RCW 46.20.308):
If you are arrested for a DUI in the state of Washington, the Washington DOL can suspend (less than one year) or revoke (one year or longer) your driver’s license administratively.  If you are 21or older (limits differ for those younger and for commercial drivers) DOL will suspend your license if:

1) You refused to take a breath (or blood) alcohol concentration (BAC) test or;

2) You took the test and it showed a BAC at or above the legal standard for intoxication (.08).

If either of these instances occurred, your license will be administratively suspended or revoked automatically (on the 60th day following your arrest) if you do not request an administrative hearing to contest the suspension or revocation.  If you failed the BAC test, the length of suspension or revocation will depend on your DOL history and your BAC reading at the time of arrest. Keep in mind, the revocation period for those who refuse is always longer than for those who are tested and fail. This administrative license suspension (ALS) action is completely separate from the criminal charge you may face.


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