5 Major Consequences of A DUI In Washington State

By Vancouver WA DUI Defense Attorney Roger Priest

1 – A Washington DUI Carries Mandatory Minimum Sentences

If you are convicted of a DUI, you will have to serve jail, house arrest, or both. For a first time Washington DUI, you must serve at least day in jail or fifteen days of house arrest. If there are aggravating circumstances the sentence can be higher. For a second offense or subsequent offense the mandatory minimum sentences can be much higher. In some cases, it might be Additionally, it may be possible to negotiate your DUI down to an offense that does not have a mandatory jail sentence.

This will be difficult if not impossible to do on your own, so it pays to hire an experienced DUI attorney if you are facing a DUI charge.

2 – 5 Years of Probation Including Alcohol Treatment

If you are convicted of a DUI in Washington, you will typically be placed on probation for a term of five years (unless the court sentences you to the maximum sentence of one year). The court has discretion to decide what type of probation is required. Probation generally falls into two categories: bench and active probation.

Bench probation is what most first-time offenders and some second-time offenders will get. Bench probation means that the court itself supervises you. This type of supervision is much less intrusive than active probation. Typically, your case will be “monitored” by the probation department simply to make sure you do the things the court tells you to do.

An average DUI may require that you obtain an alcohol and drug assessment from a Washington approved treatment agency and follow through with whatever treatment is recommended. This treatment can range from a one time informational class to months and months of treatment. You will also likely be required to attend a victim’s panel where you hear about the potential impact a DUI can have on society. In some cases you may also be required to pay restitution to victims if your DUI caused injury or property damage. Depending on the facts of the case, the court can also impose other conditions of probation that it thinks are necessary to make sure you don’t reoffend.

Assuming you complete all of the tasks in a timely fashion, your probation will transition into a dormant status once you’ve completed each requirement. If you don’t do the conditions quickly, you can face potential probation sanctions from the court for failing to follow the court’s instructions. Repeated failures can also lead a bench probation to be converted into an active probation.

Active probation is typically much more involved. You will be assigned a probation officer who actively monitors that you are following the court’s orders and not violating any laws. You can be required to regularly meet with your probation officer. You may also be required to randomly submit to alcohol and drug urinalysis testing. Modern urine tests can test some drugs for weeks after use and can test for alcohol usage for up to a week. If you are found to have violated the terms of your probation, you can face sanctions from the court (i.e., jail, house arrest, or work crew). Furthermore, your probation officer can order you to come in for surprise visits. You might be at work and ordered to drop everything and come in the same day. Obviously, this can negatively affect your job if your employer cannot afford to have you randomly unavailable for work.

Although probation is five years for a DUI, the court does have discretion to allow you to get off of probation early where you have completed all of your conditions of probation problem-free. Also, you can petition the court to move an active probation down to bench probation if you can prove to them that active probation is no longer necessary.

3 – License Suspension

Being charged with a DUI can lead to a suspension of your license both administratively and criminally. If you are charged with a DUI and either blow over the legal limit or refuse to take the breath test at the police station or jail, the Department of Licensing will take action to suspend your license. They will try to suspend your license for 90 days if you simply blow over the legal limit. They will try to suspend your license for one year if you refuse the breath test.

Additionally, if you are convicted of a DUI in court, your license can be suspended for 90 days, one year, two years, or more based on the circumstances.

You might be able to avoid a license suspension if you challenge the administrative action against you and ultimately don’t get a DUI conviction. If you want to challenge the administrative suspension, you must submit a request for hearing within seven days of your arrest. If you wait too long to challenge the suspension, you lose the right to challenge the suspension.

It is also important to remember that simply getting your license suspended doesn’t mean you won’t be able to drive. Washington offers a restricted license that will allow you to continue to drive over the term of the suspension. That Ignition Interlock License requires you install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle and obtain SR-22 insurance. Despite these downsides, the license will let you drive under no time or purpose restrictions, so you can continue to drive wherever life requires you to.

Refusing to take a breath test in a DUI case can cause you a two year license suspension in the criminal case on a first offense. This is a lot longer than the potential 90 day suspension for simply blowing over the legal limit. Additionally, a DUI refusal conviction requires more jail than a conviction for a regular DUI charge.

Despite this, a DUI refusal case can be harder to prove in trial for the prosecution. Without a breath test over the legal limit, a jury may be left wondering whether they actually proved you were impaired. Although a refusal can be argued as evidence of guilt, it is far less reliable as evidence than a breath test proving you were over the legal limit.

4 – Ignition Interlock Device

If you are convicted of a DUI in Washington, you will be required to obtain an ignition interlock device. An ignition interlock device is a breath testing machine that goes into your car to make sure you don’t drink and drive.

Washington law requires that you obtain an ignition interlock device for your vehicle for one year for a first offense. For a second offense with a previous ignition interlock requirement, the term jumps to five years. For a third requirement, you have to have the device for ten years. Additionally, you can only drive a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device for that required period. Until you can show proof that you had the device installed for the required term, being caught driving without an ignition interlock device is itself a criminal offense and will be a violation of your DUI probation. Startlingly, each violation of this condition requires a 30-day sentence for your violation of probation.

The take away: just don’t risk it.

5 – A DUI license suspension will require SR-22 insurance for 36-months

A license suspension resulting from a DUI will require that you obtain SR-22 insurance. SR-22 insurance is additional coverage based on your high risk driving record. Once you can get your license reinstated, you must maintain proof with the Department of Licensing that you have this additional insurance coverage. If you let it lapse, your license will be re-suspended until you provide proof that SR-22 has been again obtained.

If You Have Been Charged With A DUI In Clark County or Vancouver WA, Time Is Of The Essence!

Call Our Office To Speak With Attorney Roger Priest Immediately.