What are the potential penalties for drunk driving in Washington?

People who are convicted of driving under the influence in Washington may face a range of penalties, from fines to jail time.

Most motorists in Washington and elsewhere know they may be arrested for driving under the influence if they are stopped by law enforcement and found to have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher. However, many underestimate the potential implications of drunk driving arrests and the penalties they might face if convicted. In order to help protect themselves, it behooves drivers to be aware of the consequences for DUI in the state.

Fines

One of the penalties prescribed by state law for those convicted of drunk driving in Washington are fines. Based on ranging factors, including their criminal records and the circumstances of their arrests, motorists may be fined a minimum of $940.50 for a DUI conviction with a BAC level of 0.15 or less. If they have been previously convicted of an alcohol-related traffic offense, the fines they face may total up to $5,000. Drivers whose BAC level exceeded 0.15 percent at the time of their arrests may be fined between $1,195.50 and $5,000.

Driver's license suspensions and revocations


Both a DUI arrest and a conviction may result in the loss of their driving privileges for motorists. Depending on their prior convictions, drivers with a BAC level of 0.15 percent or less may be subject to a 90-day driver's license suspension or a two-year or three-year revocation. The duration their privileges may be suspended or revoked may be increased to a period of one-year, 900-days or four-years for those whose BAC exceeds 0.15 percent.

Alcohol treatment and education program

In some situations, the court may see fit to include alcohol treatment and education in people's sentences for DUI convictions. As such, drivers may be ordered to submit to assessments and monitoring, as well as to attend regular classes or counseling sessions. Sometimes, motorists may be required to abstain from consuming alcoholic beverages as a part of their treatment programs or sentencing.

Jail time

When people are convicted of drunk driving in Washington, state law specifies minimum jail terms. With few exceptions, those with a BAC of 0.15 percent or less may be ordered to serve between 24 consecutive hours and 364 days in jail. If their BAC is over 0.15 percent, drivers may be sentenced to a minimum of 48 consecutive hours in jail, up to 364 days. The duration of motorists' jail sentences in these cases is dependent on their prior records, among other factors.

Obtaining legal representation

Due to the severity with which DUI is punished in Washington, a drunk driving arrest may have lasting implications for motorists. Therefore, those who have been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence may benefit from working with an attorney. A lawyer may help ensure their rights are upheld throughout the process, as well as aid them in building a strong criminal defense.