Washington State has had some of the toughest DUI laws in the country for a long time but they became even stricter as new rules went into play on January 1, 2014. Specific information about the DUI laws can be found at the Washington State Department of Licensing. The new rules are intended to stop repeat offenders from drinking while their case is pending in the courts. Counties will be given funding to create a “24 hour sobriety program” which will actually monitor the defendant’s alcohol intake. One tool that could be used is alcohol monitoring bracelets but another option will be to require the individual to submit to a breathalyzer or urine test at a sheriff’s office.

If you were recently arrested for DUI, you will find the information here useful but don’t hesitate to hire an experienced DUI defense attorney. Your situation is unique and will be best handled by a professional.

Washington’s Tough DUI Laws Include:

0.08 Legal Limit

Washington State has a .08 percent blood alcohol limit which is generally determined by a breathalyzer test taken at your vehicle. Problems arise because there is no way to know when you have crossed the legal threshold and you may also not feel intoxicated at this limit.

Mandatory License Suspension

If you have been arrested for DUI because you took a breathalyzer test and blew over the legal limit or refused to take the test, the Department of Licensing (DOL) will be notified automatically and they will act to suspend your license for 90 days if you took the test and up to one year if you refused. This suspension occurs whether or not you are later proven innocent. Upon your license reinstatement, you will be required to file for high risk insurance for three years. Expect your suspension period to be longer if you have had a prior “administrative action” through the DOL in the past seven years. Since 2009, a person can apply for an “ignition interlock license” which means that a breathalyzer device is installed into the ignition wiring and requires a breath before the car will start and periodically while driving. This acts instead of a license suspension but these devices cost approximately $60.00 per month plus installation fees. If you “fail” the interlock test as you are driving, your car’s lights will flash and the horn will blow. Every interlock test result is recorded in the computer and if court ordered, a printout of all the readings can be provided to the court or a probation officer on a regular basis.

Mandatory Minimums

First Offense:
  • One day in jail if breath test was between 0.08 and 0.15
  • Two days in jail if breath test was over 0.15 or the test was refused
  • Fine of up to $5,000
  • License suspension
Second Offense within Seven Years:
  • If the breath test was under 0.15, thirty days in jail followed by sixty days electronic home detention
  • If the breath test was 0.15 or higher or the test was refused, 45 days in jail followed by ninety days electronic home detention
  • Fine of up to $5,000
  • License suspension

In all cases, the court is required to keep a permanent record of the conviction.

Stiff Penalties for Probation Violations

Probation lasts for five years and includes not driving a vehicle without valid license and insurance, not driving with a blood alcohol level above 0.08, and not refusing to submit to a breath or blood test upon lawful request from a police officer. If probation is broken, the court is mandated to confine the person for thirty days. A person on probation can expect periodic reviews to test for compliance.

Electronic Home Detention

Electronic home detention (EHD) is “electronic jail” served in your home and can be imposed after a first conviction but is required on subsequent convictions. EHD devices track your location and if you walk outside of your legal boundary, the computer will call to report your violation. The cost of EHD is paid for by the defendant.

Note that Washington State courts have ruled that even a successfully completed Deferred Prosecution, where the prior DUI charge was actually dismissed, will count as a prior conviction if the prior arrest occurred within seven years of the current arrest.

If you have been arrested for DUI in Washington State, be prepared to face stiff penalties. Your best chance to navigate the system is to hire an experienced DUI defense attorney who knows the DOL laws and rules and can give you a chance to save your license. Please call the caring DUI attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. today!

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