Washington may only have a 4-star rating from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), but it is not for a lack of penalties and fines, which are among the toughest in the country. MADD, however, would like to see more visible signs of enforcement in the state, such as sobriety checkpoints.
Washington DUI by the Numbers (based on 2012 overall numbers)
Washington has seen a notable decrease in its DUI numbers over since the last evaluation. One noticeable area, though, is the rather small percentage of BAC .15+ in repeat offenders of fatal crashes:
- 30,501 total DUI arrests (194 from under-18 drivers)
- 146 total alcohol-related fatalities (16 from under-21 drivers)
- 46.6 percent decrease in alcohol-related fatalities
- 59.7 percent decrease in alcohol-related fatalities for under-21 drivers
- 69.6 percent of fatalities involved a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15+
- 33.3 percent of repeat offenders had a BAC of .15+
DUI First Offense Penalties in Washington
Washington offers a very significant range for penalties and fines based on the offense. If there are no children involved and your BAC (blood alcohol content) is just over the limit, the judge may only sentence you to the minimums. However, keep in mind maximum fines and penalties are very high for first time offenders. Below are the fines and penalties as of this writing:
- Fines ranging from $865.50 to $5,000
- Mandatory IID required
- Minimum of 24 hours in jail with a maximum sentence of one year
- Mandatory suspension ranging from 90 days up to one year
Washington is an implied consent state. If you refuse to take chemical tests in this state, you will face additional fines and an automatic license suspension of one year. One additional year is added for each repeat violation. This suspension is in place regardless of the outcome of the case in court.
Washington offers a 7-year lookback period for DUI sentencing.
Should You Hire a DUI Attorney if Arrested and Charged in Washington?
As it states above, minimum fines are rather low, but maximum fines are very significant. In addition, repeat offense penalties and fines escalate significantly. Currently, there is no law disallowing a wet reckless plea, so a good attorney may be able to help you avoid a first-time DUI conviction by pleading out to this lesser charge. However, keep in mind, in most cases, if you do have a repeat violation, the wet reckless plea is usually considered as a first-time DUI. For more information about Washington DUI attorneys, please fill out the Free DUI Arrest Evaluation Form.
Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and DUI law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any driving under the influence arrest charges, get free online assistance in learning how to fight a DUI case for the best possible outcome.