DUI: The More You Know
WA DUI Laws and Resources brought to you courtesy of Bugbee Law Office, P.S.
What Is 46.61 502?
8/4/17- The DUI law that governs Washington state is RCW 46.61 502. “RCW” stands for “Revised Code of Washington,” while “46.61 502” refers to the title (46), chapter (46.61), and section where the law is located within the RCW. All of the laws that are part of this collection are currently enforced.
Washington State Legislature refers to these laws as “Session Laws” that the Legislature approved and the Governor signed.
What Restrictions and Stipulations Apply Under RWC 46.61 502?
This law sets the Washington state BAC limit for DUI for a number of different circumstances. It also includes provisions for “implied consent” regarding chemical/breathalyzer tests and “per se DUI.”
1. Washington State BAC Limits
According to the current law, you are guilty of driving under the influence if your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is at or above .08% within two hours after operating a motor vehicle.
You’re also guilty if, within two hours of driving a vehicle, your THC concentration is at or above 5.00, or you’re under the influence of any other drug, or combination of drugs and alcohol. Even if you have a legal reason to be in possession of the drugs – for instance, if you have a doctor’s prescription – you are still guilty of a DUI.
You may be able to prove in court that your alcohol or drug consumption occurred after you operated a vehicle and within those two hours, but there are stipulations about that, too. For instance, you have to notify the court prior to your pretrial or hearing that you plan on making this move.
2. The “Implied Consent” Provision
Under Washington state law, if you drive on state roads, you have given your implied consent for blood or breath testing in cases where an officer has sufficient reason to believe you are driving under the influence.
3. The “Per Se DUI” Provision
Even if you feel like you can drive safely at the legal limit due to your body composition or drinking experience, you can still get a DUI. This is because the “per se DUI” provision sets the limit unequivocally at .08%. There are no special cases or extenuating circumstances taken into account.
Related Washington DUI Laws: 46.61 503, 46.61 504, and Beyond
A bevy of other laws that regulate driving under the influence is related to 46.61 502.
These include penalties for drivers under 21 with a DUI, the definition of “physical control of vehicle under the influence,” additional fees for violators, and mandatory appearances they must make, including appearing before a judicial officer or appearing in court.
A DUI Lawyer in Spokane, WA Can Help You Navigate State Laws
If you’re charged with a DUI, there’s a lot to contend with. You can understand and deal with your obligations under the law easier if you work with a DUI lawyer in Spokane, WA. For expert advice and representation, call or visit Bugbee Law Office.
Is a DUI a Criminal Offense in Washington State?
More specifically, if you are operating a vehicle under the influence, you are in violation of RCW 46.61.502.
If you are arrested and charged with a DUI, or convicted of a DUI in court, you will most likely face criminal penalties. On top of these penalties, you additionally may be subject to administrative penalties from the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL).
To understand just what you’ll face for driving under the influence, first you need to understand how Washington State defines DUI.
How Do Washington State Alcohol Laws Define DUI?
If you are stopped while driving a vehicle under the influence, you may be arrested and charged with a gross misdemeanor if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) meets or surpasses any of these levels:
- .08 or higher (adults 21 and older)
- .02 or higher (minors)
- .04 or higher (drivers operating commercial vehicles)
A DUI may also be issued if you are under the influence of any type of drug or combination of drugs, not just alcohol. In these cases, your BAC doesn’t matter.
What Can Happen if You Break Washington DUI Laws?
When you are arrested for breaking Washington DUI laws, you can face multiple penalties from different areas. These include:
- Penalties resulting from your arrest
- Penalties from getting convicted in court
- DOL penalties
1. DUI Penalties Resulting from Arrest
After a Washington State DUI arrest, your license will be suspended anywhere from 90 days to two years. Additionally, you have 20 days after the arrest (or notice of suspension) to request an optional hearing to review your suspension, where this penalty could potentially be lifted. This request costs $375 and is nonrefundable.
The above hearing is carried out independent of any criminal charges you’re facing. For those, you’ll attend a separate court hearing to determine conviction and punishment.
2. DUI Penalties for a Court Conviction
If you’re convicted in court, there are a number of possible punishments. For instance, you could face the following if your BAC is .15% or under:
- 90-day license suspension
- Anywhere from 1 to 364 days in jail
In addition to the above penalties, you could be fined at least $940. Depending on the nature of your case, this could be significantly higher – as high as $5,000.
3. DUI Penalties from the DOL After a Court Conviction
The court will notify the DOL if you have been convicted. They can then suspend your license for up to four years, which will take effect 45 days after your conviction.
A DUI Is a Criminal Offense in Washington State – but There’s Help Available
Navigating a DUI arrest, conviction, and penalties can be overwhelming. Contact an experienced attorney from Bugbee Law Office and get the help you need.
When is a DUI a Felony in Washington State?
However, a felony DUI in Washington state is possible.
In Washington, your DUI can be escalated to a felony, especially if you have four or more DUI convictions in a 10-year period. Also, if your DUI involved vehicular assault or serious injury, the charge may be escalated to a felony offense.
Decoding the Statute: When Does a Felony DUI in Washington State Occur?
Under RCW 46.51.502, you might be charged with a Class B felony if you have four or more DUI offenses or other criminal offenses in the past ten years.
Also, your misdemeanor may become a felony if:
- You were previously convicted of vehicular homicide while under the influence;
- You were convicted of vehicular assault while under the influence;
- You were convicted of an out-of-state offense that is comparable to Washington offenses.
The felony DUI law has been around since 2007, and amendments to the code were made over the past few years to push up the cut-off period for multiple offenses.
Felony DUIs Carry Much Harsher Penalties
Compared to a misdemeanor, your felony DUI carries significant penalties, including consequences that will affect you for the rest of your life, even if you do not serve much time in jail.
If you are charged with a Class B felony, you could spend as much as ten years in prison and pay up to $20,000 in fines. Your sentencing is governed by the Washington State Sentencing Guidelines, and these guidelines have mandatory sentencing ranges for felonies. Unlike misdemeanors, there will be little to no maneuvering by the judge, and most judges will impart the standard penalty.
When sentencing, the judge will use a scoring system outlined in the statute. This helps them determine the appropriate sentence based on all mitigating and aggravating factors.
If there are aggravating circumstances, the judge can increase your sentence as well; for example, if your fifth DUI conviction involves bodily harm or vehicular manslaughter.
Proactive Chemical Dependency Evaluations Might Help
A DUI attorney may advise you to seek a chemical dependency evaluation before sentencing. If you are proactive, this may spare a harsher penalty from the judge. It also shows the judge that you are taking your criminal charges seriously, and you can find a treatment program that will help you with any dependency issues that led to your DUI.
Avoid a felony DUI in Washington State by consulting with an experienced DUI attorney.
Meet with a DUI attorney from Bugbee Law Offices, P.S. now at 509-337-5082 or request your case evaluation online.
What Happens If You are Convicted of a DUI in Washington?
Unfortunately, the state of Washington does not see a DUI as an innocent mistake. Instead, they see it as an opportunity for harsh punishment. Washington deploys incredibly harsh penalties for DUI and DWI offenders; therefore, if you are convicted of a DUI, you may find that you have life-long consequences for one misstep in judgment.
The Criminal Penalties of a DUI Conviction in Washington
It is illegal to operate or be in possession of a motor vehicle in Washington when your blood alcohol content (BAC) is more than 0.08 or if you are under the influence of a legal or controlled substance.
Also, the state will consider any previous DUI convictions from the last seven to ten years. If you have four subsequent DUI convictions in a ten-year period, you will be charged with a felony.
The BAC level at the time of your arrest will also dictate the penalty per RCW 46.61.5055. A BAC of 0.15 or more will result in heightened jail sentences and fines.
Criminal penalties for a DUI include:
- First Offense: First-time offenders with a 0.15 or less BAC can spend one day in jail or 15 days of electronic home monitoring and pay up to $941 in fines. For a first-time offender with a 0.15 or higher BAC, jail time is extended to two days or 30 days EHM and a fine of up to $1,196. An IID will be required by the Department of Licensing as well.
- Second Offense: If your BAC is 0.15 or less, you will have 30 days in jail and 60 days EHM plus a minimum penalty of $1,196. With a BAC of 0.15 or higher, you will spend 45 days in jail, 90 days EHM, and pay a minimum fine of $1,621.
- Third Offense: With a BAC of 0.15 or less, you will spend up to 90 days in jail with a maximum of 364 days and a fine of no less than $1,000. If your BAC is 0.15 or higher, you will have 120 days in jail with a maximum of 364 days, and a fine of no less than $1,500 and no greater than $5,000.
The Administrative Penalties If You are Convicted of a DUI
In addition to the criminal penalties, the Department of Licensing can strike you with administrative penalties. If convicted, your license can be suspended for anywhere from 90 days to four years. To reinstate your license or receive restricted licensing so you can drive, you must install an IID as well as apply for an Ignition Interlock Driver License (IIL).
What are the Recent Changes to Washington’s Ignition Interlock Laws?
The IID is a device that requires you to breathe into it before the ignition will start. The device measures your blood alcohol content via breath, and it will not engage the ignition unless your BAC reading is under 0.25 per the Washington State Department of Licensing.
Will My Spokane DUI Require an IID?
Even a first-time offender will have an IID for at least one year if they wish to reinstate their driver’s license. The requirements for the IID fall under Washington State RCWs Title 46, Chapter 46.20 Section 720. These durations are mandatory and heavily enforced.
Regardless if your BAC was under or over the 0.15 cut off, you are likely to have an IID for one year. If you are a second-time offender, you will have an IID for up to five years, and a third or subsequent Spokane DUI will result in up to 10 years of an IID.
An IID May be Required for Additional Offenses Too
There are instances without a DUI that will also require an IID. If you are convicted of reckless or negligent driving, you may be required to have an IID installed for up to six months after your conviction.
The Costs Associated with an IID
IIDs are more than just a hassle; they cost defendants hundreds of dollars throughout the year. Just some costs that you must maintain to remain in compliance include:
- Installation fees;
- Maintenance costs;
- Monitoring costs;
- Repair costs;
- IID reset costs (when the IID locks due to too many failed BAC tests).
Changes in Washington IID Laws You Should Know
The latest changes to IID laws are both favorable and unfavorable for DUI defendants. First, you are still required to have one installed on all personal vehicles you drive.
If you must operate an employer-owned vehicle, however, you can claim an exemption to the IID so that your employer is not legally obligated to install an IID on their company-owned vehicles. The form must be submitted before you drive your company’s car.
Another change in the IID law that was created a few years ago includes the removal requirements. You can have your IID removed after you pass the minimum IID sentence, and if you have not had a failure or positive test in the last four months.
Speak with a Spokane DUI Attorney about Your IID Requirements
If you or a loved one has been arrested for a DUI, it is imperative that you contact an attorney immediately. An attorney can assist you with your DUI defense, but also ensure you remain in compliance if you have an IID and represent you in the event your IID failures are an issue of probation violation.
Schedule a consultation now with Bugbee Law Office, P.S. at 509-337-5082 or request a free case evaluation online.
How Washington State BAC Limits Affect Sentencing
Washington, however, employs a scale for their DUIs. While you will be arrested for driving under the influence if your BAC is 0.08 or higher, there is a threshold, and if you go over the threshold, you could face harsher penalties.
What is the Washington State BAC Limit?
Per RCW 46.61.502, you are driving under the influence if your BAC is 0.08 or higher or you have a THC concentration in the blood of 5.00 or greater within two hours of driving.
What Sentences Come with Higher BAC Limits?
Washington is one of the few states to use an escalation process for higher BAC results. In Washington, you are given a harsher sentence if your BAC is 0.15 or greater.
For example, a first-time offender with a BAC of 0.15 or less will face a one day to up to 364 days in jail and a fine of no less than $350. If the BAC is 0.15 or higher, the courts can impose a minimum of two days to as many as 364 days in jail with a fine of no less than $500.
A second offense with a BAC of 0.15 or less results in 30 days to as many as 364 days in jail and a fine of no less than $500. However, if the BAC is 0.15 or more, you could be sentenced to a minimum of 45 days in jail and no less than $750 in fines.
For each offense tier, the punishments increase for those with BACs over 0.15.
Can I Just Refuse the Breathalyzer Test?
Do not think that refusing a test and having no BAC on record will help you avoid a DUI conviction, let alone penalties. Under RCW 46.20.308, all drivers give implied consent. Therefore, if you refuse a test, you will be penalized not only by the criminal courts but the Department of Licensing. Your refusal will also be used against you, and if convicted, you will face the penalties of a person with a BAC of 0.15 or less.
Protect Yourself from Varying Washington State BAC Limits, Contact an Attorney
If you have been arrested for a DUI, regardless of your BAC, it is imperative you speak with a lawyer. Washington imposes harsh penalties for DUI offenders, especially repeat offenders. When your BAC is above 0.15, the state allows judges to increase your penalty, and you could spend up to one year in jail.
Contact an attorney at Bugbee Law Office, P.S. today about your DUI. Call us at 509-337-5082 for a free consultation or request a case evaluation online.
What is Deferred Prosecution for DUI in Washington?
4/19/17- If you are charged with a DUI in Washington, and you have been diagnosed with alcohol or drug dependency, you may be eligible for a deferred prosecution of your DUI.
A deferred prosecution is an option for those who have mental health problems or drug/alcohol dependencies, but simply claiming that there is a problem is not enough. Instead, you must meet the rigid requirements and comply with all conditions to have your charges dismissed.
Eligibility Requirements for a Deferred Prosecution for DUI in Washington
To be eligible, speak with a DUI attorney. An attorney can help you complete the prosecution request, but also ensure you meet the legal requirements outlined in RCW 10.05.020.
Some requirements include:
- You cannot have a past deferred prosecution for any crime, including a DUI. You are only allowed one deferment in a lifetime.
- You must be diagnosed by a medical professional as alcohol dependent, suffering from mental health issues, or drug dependent.
- You must enroll into an accredited treatment program and comply with the treatment recommendations made by the healthcare professionals overseeing your case.
Is Deferred Prosecution Right for Your DUI?
While you can avoid prosecution, it does not mean you walk out of the courtroom without consequences. Therefore, before you request deferred prosecution, you must understand the requirements and implications of this deferment.
The Consequences of a Deferred Prosecution
- Lifetime Rule: You can only enter one deferred prosecution for a lifetime. If you are a first-time offender, most attorneys will not advise deferred prosecution.
- Waiving Your Rights: If you request deferred prosecution, you waive your rights to go to trial. If you do not comply with the terms of the deferment, a judge can automatically find you guilty of a DUI and sentence you without the right to a trial.
- Look Back Applies: Even if you complete a deferred prosecution, that event is still considered a prior offense for the look-back period for subsequent DUIs.
- Abstinence is Required: You cannot drink or take any non-prescribed medications for five years if you are granted deferment.
- Costs: You have an obligation to pay all costs of your treatment, probation, and other requirements of your deferment, such as installing and maintaining an IID.
- Time: You must comply with the deferment, which includes a time-consuming treatment program.
Most importantly, if you are diagnosed with “chemical” dependence, RCW 10.05.150 requires that you be sent to a two-year certified treatment program through the state. You must remain in the program and comply with all treatments, such as a minimum number of recovery support group meetings, completing three phases of treatment, and more.
See if a deferred prosecution for a DUI is the right choice by consulting with an attorney from Bugbee Law Office, P.S. Call for a free case evaluation now at 509-337-5082 or request yours online.
DUI License Suspensions: Don’t Get Caught by New Deadlines
Moreover, with the new Department of Licensing deadline changes under HB 2700, you could have your driver’s license suspended simply because you did not request your hearing within the timeframe.
If you have been arrested, contact a DUI lawyer in Washington immediately. An attorney will not only help you avoid conviction but ensure you do not have your driver’s license suspended because of a missed deadline.
What Are the New Deadlines?
The new deadlines for requesting a DOL hearing are confusing for many, and become more complicated if your suspension hearing is for a refusal to take a blood or breath test.
The basic guidelines are that:
- For a DUI Arrest: You must request the hearing with the DOL to contest your license suspension within 20 days of the arrest. This applies to those who refused a breathalyzer test at the time of their arrest as well. The fee is $375, but this may be waived if you qualify for poverty status.
- For a DUI Conviction: If convicted of a DUI, your driver’s license suspension starts 45 days after the conviction notice is received from the courts. You cannot request a hearing to stop the suspension, but you can attend a hearing or request an Ignition Interlock Driver License (IIL) to receive restricted license status and continue driving post-conviction.
If your driver’s license is suspended, the Department of Licensing can suspend for 90 days and up to four years. The amount of the suspension is determined by the severity of the incident and if it is your first, second, or subsequent DUI conviction.
Changes for DOL Hearings Soon to Come
Once HB 2700 takes full effect, you will no longer have 20 days to request your DOL hearing. Instead, the 20-day mark will be reduced to seven days. So, you will have only one week not only to hire a DUI lawyer in Washington but also prepare for your trial and save your driver’s license.
This is a very short timeframe for anyone to work with; therefore, it is in your best interest to retain an attorney as soon as possible for assistance with your case, and any DOL deadlines you might have missed.
For assistance with your case, contact an experienced DUI lawyer in Washington at Bugbee Law Office, P.S. Call 24/7 for a consultation at 509-337-5082 or request a case evaluation online.
How Will New Washington DUI Laws Affect You?
3/27/17- House Bill 2700 brought plenty of confusion regarding Washington state alcohol laws. Also, the companion HB 2280 took away many of the positive points in HB 2700, making 2017 a year to avoid a DUI at all costs.
The Introduction of a New Sentencing Alternative
When you are convicted of a DUI, Washington drinking laws and statutes dictate the penalty. Typically, there are mandatory sentences based on the number of previous DUI offenses. Before HB 2700, a first-time offender with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) test resulting in less than 0.15 had a mandatory one day in jail. Usually, your attorney could request electronic home monitoring.
However, under HB 2700, there is an additional alternative that includes 24/7 alcohol monitoring. Therefore, you could now face:
- One day in jail;
- 15 days electronic monitoring at home;
- Alternatively, 90 days at an alcohol monitoring program.
Ignition Interlock Requirements
Before HB 2700, if convicted of a DUI you would receive an exemption for an IID on an employer’s work vehicle. Back then, you could receive the exemption for 30 to 365 days after the conviction. HB 2700 eliminated that waiting period so that you could receive an exception to the IID requirement for a work vehicle.
Driver’s License Suspensions Following a DUI
Now you may be able to avoid losing your driver’s license, but only if you are a first-time DUI offender. The Department of Motor Vehicles will hold suspension if you enroll in a 24/7 program for a specific amount of time. The BAC results from your arrest dictate this program time requirement.
If, however, you refuse your test, then the Department of Motor Vehicles will automatically suspend your driver’s license for one year for the first offense, two years for the second offense, and three years for your third refusal per Washington’s Revised Code 46-20-308.
Department of Licensing Changes in 2019
In 2019, those convicted of a DUI may be subjected to a hearing from the Department of Licensing and the Department will have 30 days to hold that hearing. However, the deadline for requesting your hearing will shorten from 20 days down to seven days to compensate.
Washington Drinking Laws are Harsh, Contact a DUI Attorney Immediately
If you have been arrested for a DUI, do not let a DUI permanently tarnish your record. Instead, contact an experienced attorney from Bugbee Law Office, P.S.
Schedule your free consultation at 509-337-5082 or request an appointment online.
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