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DUI in Washington

DUI and Other Alcohol Related Charges

Washington law is tough on Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and other related charges, such as Negligent Driving 1st Degree, Minor DUI, and Minor in Possession.  It is important to know what you should and should not do if you are stopped for any such charge.  Be prepared by reviewing What to do if Stopped by Law Enforcement.

A DUI is a gross misdemeanor as established in RCW 46.61.502 and 46.61.504.   The law provides for a person to be guilty of driving under the influence if his or her blood or breath level is over .08 or higher for alcohol or a concentration of 5.00 ng or higher for THC within two hours after driving.  This is commonly referred to as a per se DUI.   A person may also be found guilty of a DUI if he or she is affected by intoxicating liquor, marijuana, any other drug or combination of drugs.   The law also provides that a person may be guilty of a Physical Control DUI, where the person is under the influence and is in physical control of the vehicle, even if not driving.    

Although our nation was founded on the principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty, a person charged with a DUI may feel like it is the other way around.  Consider that if you are arrested for a DUI:

  • The first penalty is that your vehicle may be impounded and held for a minimum of 12 hours.  If this happens, you will be required to pay the impound and storage fees, even if you are later found innocent at trial or the charges are dropped.
  • A recent law change allows for your vehicle to be left without impound if it is located in a safe location.  This would preclude you having to pay impound fees.  You may also ask for someone to come pick the vehicle up.  This does not mean you can drive it away after being processed.  
  • You will have a court date at the next court date and the court will issue pre-release conditions, such as causing you to report to probation for pre-trial release, order you to have abstinence from alcohol and all non-prescribed drugs, order you to be administratively booked, or a number of other pre-conviction penalties, including other restrictive impositions. 
  • If you have had prior DUI convictions, the court may also order you to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID).
  • If you fail to comply with all pre-release conditions, you could be held with or without bail pending trial or resolution of your case. 
  • Department of Licensing (DOL) will issue a notice of suspended license, which you may challenge, but your license could be suspended even if not found guilty of a DUI.  
  • DOL may also order you to have an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) even after you if you are found not guilty or the charges are dropped.  You may request a hearing with the DOL to fight this requirement and the license suspension.  
  • What Can You Expect at Court Hearings?
  • Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Criminal Charges

Washington's penalties for a first DUI offense:

  • A minimum of 24 consecutive hours in jail (or a maximum of 364 days in jail) for a DUI with a BAC under .15 or longer for DUI's with a BAC over .15.  Since Covid, many courts are allowing EHM-- Electronic Home Monitoring in lieu of the jail requirement.  If you have had prior DUI's within the past 7 years, the jail time is significantly more. The jail time also increases if there were children in the vehicle. 
  • A minimum of $945.50 in mandatory court costs/ fines for a BAC under .15, more for a BAC over .15.  The maximum fine is $5,000.00.  The fines also increase if there were children in the vehicle. 
  • Probation for up to five years, along with probation costs as much as $60 per month in Kittitas County.  Different counties have different probation costs. 
  • Court ordered drug and alcohol evaluation and completion of recommended treatment.
  • DOL ordered license suspension of 90 days and installation of ignition interlock device for a DUI with a BAC under .15  or longer if you have a DUI with a BAC over .15, if you have had a prior DUI, or prior suspensions by DOL. The suspension also increases if there were children or vulnerable persons in the vehicle. 
  • Other court ordered sanctions are possible.  See below.

Other penalties for all DUI's are likely to include:

  • Completion of a drug/ alcohol evaluation and completion of all recommended treatment.
  • Completion of a Victim's Impact Panel
  • Probation up to 60 months and payment of probation fees (up to $60 per month)
  • Abstinence from all alcohol and non-prescribed drugs, including marijuana
  • Cost recoveries (payment to law enforcement for time spent on your case
  • DOL license suspension
  • Ignition Interlock Device (IID)- The law requires the installation of an IID following a conviction for a DUI, and sometimes while your DUI is pending.

  • Please call to discuss this in more detail:

    • SR22
    • Probation
    • Evaluation & Treatment
    • Resources

If arrested for a DUI or other drug or alcohol related driving offense what can Heritage Law Office do for me?

If you have been charged, Heritage Law Office can be an invaluable asset. We understand that your future and freedom are at stake. In addition to fighting the case in a criminal court, Heritage Law Office would represent you at your DOL hearing challenging any suspension and any traffic infraction you may have received at the same time.

On the criminal side of the case, we will examine the traffic stop, arrest and evidence to determine whether police procedure was handled correctly and whether it is possible to suppress evidence.  This includes in part:

  • Did the officer have probable cause to stop you ?
  • Did the officer have probable cause to detain you beyond the scope of the infraction?
  • What were the results of the field sobriety tests, if you did them?
  • Whether the BAC or blood tests were done appropriately?
  • Whether your constitutional rights were violated

If your constitutional rights were violated, we may be able to get evidence suppressed and argue for reduced or dismissed charges.

Deferred prosecution may be an option if you are an alcoholic and agree to complete a treatment program. Please speak with an attorney to learn if you may be eligible for this program.  It is a serious treatment program and should not be entered into without knowing what is involved. 

At Heritage Law Office, we represent individuals in misdemeanor offenses in Cle Elum, Ellensburg, Yakima, and Kennewick.  We understand that your future and freedom are at stake and the laws are complicated.  An attorney is a valuable and must-have asset to have on your side.

Contact Heritage Law Office Today

Since Heritage Law Office is centrally located in Cle Elum, we are able to serve clients in Cle Elum, Ellensburg, Wenatchee, Yakima, Kennewick, Spokane and Walla Walla, as well as many other areas in Eastern and Central Washington.   As your advocates, we can protect your rights from overzealous law enforcement and prosecutors.  For a free consultation with a DUI lawyer, please call 509-899-5375 or contact us online.

Counties We Serve

We serve counties and cities throughout Washington State, including Kittitas, Benton, Chelan, Okanogan, Othello, Ritzville, Spokane, Walla Walla, and Yakima. Contact Heritage Law Office for more information.