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Washington State DUI Misdemeanor

Washington State DUI MisdemeanorIn Washington State, a DUI is a gross misdemeanor.  That means it is punished by up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.  A DUI in Washington is not a felony unless the driver has four or more prior offenses or one or more priors for vehicular homicide while under the influence or, as of September of 2011, any vehicular homicide or vehicular assault originally charged as vehicular homicide or vehicular assault while under the influence, or a prior felony DUI or Physical Control within ten years.

Even though a DUI is gross misdemeanor, the penalties and consequences of a conviction for DUI can be very serious.

  • Jail: mandatory minimum jail terms are required upon conviction, but the judge can always impose any amount of jail up to the 364 days maximum.
  • Fine: mandatory minimum fines are also required, but the court can impose any fine up to the maximum
  • License suspension or revocation: a minimum suspension of 90 days is imposed upon conviction for a first offense in seven years, but it will be longer if the breath test was .015 or higher, or if the test was refused, or if this was a second or subsequent offense within seven years
  • Ignition interlock restriction: the offender must apply for an ignition interlock driver’s license and drive only vehicles equipped with the device which prevents a vehicle from being started or running if alcohol is on the person’s breath
  • Chemical Dependency Evaluation and Treatment: the offender must obtain an evaluation and attend at minimum, an alcohol and drug information class and victim impact panel, or, if the diagnosis is one of dependency, treatment can range from 3 months to 2 years.

What are the defenses to a DUI charge? The defenses are numerous and depend on the facts in any given case.  A DUI may be dismissed if law enforcement contacted the driver unlawfully or arrested the driver without probable cause.  Evidence the prosecutor needs for a conviction can be problematic—if the driver drank after driving but before the arrest, if the breath or blood test was not taken within 2 hours of driving, if there were problems or errors in the testing administration or process, if the field sobriety tests were not done or not administered properly.  These are just a few of the issues that could result in a DUI being dismissed or reduced to a charge that carries less serious consequences.

The best defense to a DUI is having a skilled, experienced and knowledgeable DUI lawyer who is willing to invest time and a lot of effort in your defense.  These cases are difficult, but they can be won, we know, because we are driven in defense of those who drive.


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