Washington’s criminal justice system deals very seriously with the offense of driving under the influence, also known as “DUI,” and imposes progressively harsher penalties on individuals with prior DUI convictions. Defending against such a charge requires challenges to both the physical evidence, including the equipment used to conduct a blood or breath test, and the circumstances of the test itself, as well as witness testimony. If you are facing charges of alleged DUI, and you already have one DUI on your record, you need the assistance of an experienced Washington criminal defense lawyer who can protect your rights and help you prepare your case.
Driving Under the Influence
Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, including legal prescription drugs, constitutes DUI under Washington law. The criminal code states that anyone with a BAC of 0.08 percent or more within two hours of driving has committed the offense of DUI, but it allows prosecution for DUI even with a lower BAC, or without BAC test results at all. The state must present evidence that a defendant was impaired as a result of an intoxicating substance. They may do this with eyewitness testimony, including the arresting officer, other people who claim to have seen how the defendant was behaving, or people who claim to have seen the defendant drinking or using drugs.
Second Offense DUI
Under Washington’s criminal laws, a second DUI offense, like a first offense, is a gross misdemeanor. Gross misdemeanors carry a maximum possible jail sentence of 364 days in county jail. They also allow a fine of up to $5,000. A court may impose a sentence consisting of both a jail sentence and a fine, as well as restitution for any injuries or property damage. A court may also order a defendant, either as part of a sentence or subject to a plea agreement, to participate in programs such as alcohol intervention or treatment for substance abuse.
Penalties for Second DUI Offense
Where a second DUI offense differs from a first offense is in the minimum penalty a court may impose. The minimum for a second offense is greater than the minimum for a first offense, and the minimums increase with subsequent offenses. If a defendant has one DUI conviction during the previous seven years, and either had a BAC below 0.15 percent or had no BAC results for any reason besides refusal to take the test, the minimum jail sentence is thirty days, up to the statutory maximum of one year. Instead of jail, the court may sentence a defendant to at least sixty days of electronic home monitoring at the defendant’s expense. The court may also fine the defendant at least $500. If the defendant’s BAC was 0.15 percent or more, or if the defendant refused the test, the minimum sentence is forty-five days in jail or ninety days of electronic home monitoring, and/or a $750 fine.
If you are involved in a criminal case involving an alleged DUI offense, you should consult a Washington criminal defense attorney who knows Washington’s legal system. Vindicate Criminal Law Group has represented defendants facing DUI charges in Renton, Lakewood, and elsewhere in Washington state for over fifteen years. Contact us today for your confidential case evaluation online or at 888-212-4824.