The offense of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, commonly known as “DUI,” can carry severe penalties in Washington state. An arrest for suspected DUI can potentially lead to driver’s license suspension, even without a charge or conviction. The issue of whether a DUI suspect must submit to a blood or breath test for blood alcohol content (BAC) is also an ongoing matter of debate in the courts. State law increases the minimum penalty for DUI for people with prior DUI convictions, making the assistance of a Washington DUI defense lawyer with experience in Washington DUI cases a critical part of your response to a third or fourth DUI charge. We can help you by challenging the state’s evidence and working to minimize the impact of a charge on your life.

Driving Under the Influence

Washington defines DUI as driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating substance, including drugs and alcohol. This could even apply to medications obtained with a legal prescription. The state can charge a driver with DUI if they have evidence of impaired driving caused by alcohol or drugs. The law presumes that anyone driving with blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater, or who has that level of BAC within two hours of driving, has committed DUI. The state may present BAC test results as evidence, but may also rely on witness testimony and other evidence to establish a defendant’s alleged state of intoxication or impairment.

Third Offense DUI

DUI is a gross misdemeanor under Washington law for a first offense, as well as for anyone with up to two prior DUI convictions during the prior seven years. A court may sentence a defendant convicted of any gross misdemeanor to up to 364 days in county jail, and may assess a fine of up to $5,000. Additionally, a court can order a defendant convicted of DUI to pay restitution to any victims for injuries or property damage that, according to the judge or jury, resulted from the DUI. As part of either a sentence or a plea agreement, a court may order a defendant into alcohol or substance abuse treatment, as well as other services.

Penalties for Third DUI Offenses

If a defendant has two earlier DUI convictions during the seven-year period prior to the alleged offense, Washington law sets a higher minimum sentence than for individuals with fewer prior convictions. If a defendant’s BAC was lower than 0.15 percent, or if the state lacks BAC evidence for some reason other than the defendant’s refusal to submit to a blood or breath test, the minimum jail sentence is ninety days, or 120 days of electronic home monitoring. The defendant bears the costs of home monitoring. The minimum fine is $1,000. If the defendant’s BAC was 0.15 or higher, or if the defendant refused the BAC test, the minimum sentence is 120 days in jail or 150 days of home monitoring, and/or a $1,500 fine.

A Washington criminal defense attorney who understands Washington’s criminal laws can help guide you through your third or fourth DUI case. Vindicate Criminal Law Group has represented defendants in DUI matters throughout Washington state for over twenty years, including Renton & Bellevue. Contact us today for your confidential case evaluation, online or at 888-212-4824.