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What Happens On Your First DUI Offense?

In Washington, a first offense DUI may often be reduced to a lesser charge if you have a knowledgeable DUI lawyer negotiating for you. In most Washington State jurisdictions, prosecutors will not reduce a DUI to a lesser charge unless they believe they have a problem proving the case. This is why an experienced, and well-respected DUI lawyer is necessary to get the best result. The lawyers at Callahan Law, P.S., Inc. are knowledgeable, diligent and go beyond the call to be sure that no stone is left unturned to find weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case.

 

By getting a reduction of the charge from DUI to a lesser offense, you avoid the extreme penalties of a first offense DUI [link to boxes below?] in Washington State, and the lesser charge may later be “expunged”. However, if you plead guilty to DUI, or are found guilty of DUI at trial, the charge will never be “expunged” from your criminal history.

 

DUI First Offense, Felony or Misdemeanor?

A first DUI is usually a gross misdemeanor, not a felony. It becomes a felony if the person has ever previously been convicted of Vehicular Assault or  has four or more prior DUI’s.  A first DUI becomes a Vehicular Homicide if it results in the death of another person.

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What To Expect

In general, when a person is arrested for DUI in Washington State, there are two separate cases that arise: a criminal case with the court, and an administrative case with DOL to suspend or revoke the person’s license.

Criminal DUI Charge

Some courts can take several months before the person is charged and sent notice of their first court date. 

At the first court hearing, called an “arraignment”, the person pleads “not guilty” and the court imposes “conditions” upon the person while the case is pending. 

These conditions may include: posting bail or bond; not consuming alcohol, marijuana and non-prescribed drugs; not driving under the influence; not driving without a valid license and insurance. 

Following this you will receive notice of your next court date, usually a “pretrial hearing” to be held within 30-45 days. A person may have several pretrial hearings before the criminal case is resolved.

Department of Licensing (DOL) Suspension

Unless a blood test was administered, DOL will usually “suspend” the person’s license 60 days from the date of the arrest, the same is true if DOL “revokes” the license due to the person refusing a breath or blood test. 

The arresting officer is required to give the person a notice that they have a right to a hearing to contest the suspension or revocation, HOWEVER, the request for a hearing MUST BE POSTMARKED within 7 days of the arrest (unless blood was drawn without a refusal).

Penalties for First Offense DUI In Washington

The penalties depend on whether you took the breath or blood test, refused the test, or for some other reason, there is no test result.

Penalties for Those 21 and Older Include:

Breath or Blood Alcohol Test Result less than .150 or No Test Result
OR
Blood Test Result w/ any drug or w/ 5 nanograms of THC or more

No Prior Offense 1 Prior Offense w/ 7 years 2 Prior Offenses w/ 7 years
Min/Max Jail Time 1 Day/ 364 days 30 days/ 364 days 90 days/ 364 days
Electronic Home Monitoring (EHM) 15 days instead of jail 60 days mandatory 120 days OR a minimum of 8 additional days jail
Min/Max Fine (fees/ assessments, not including probation fees) $990.50 / $5k $1,245.50 / $5k $2,095.50 / $5k
License Suspension/ Revocation (Day for Day Credit given for administrative suspension/ revocation) 90 days 2 year revocation 3 year revocation
Diagnostic substance use evaluation and follow recommendations. Required Expanded Evaluation Required Expanded Evaluation Required

**Ignition Interlock Device Restriction required in all cases (first IID restriction at least 1 year; 2nd IID restriction at least 5 years; 3rd at least 10 years)**

Breath or Blood Alcohol Test Result .150 or Higher or Test Refused

No Prior Offense 1 Prior Offense w/ 7 years 2 Prior Offenses w/ 7 years
Min/Max Jail Time 2 days/ 364 days 45 days/ 364 days 120 days/ 364 days
Electronic Home Monitoring (EHM) 30 days instead of jail 90 days mandatory 150 days OR a minimum of 10 additional days jail
Min/Max Fine (fees/ assessments, not including probation fees) $1,245.50 / $5k $1,670.50 / $5k $2,945.50 / $5k
License Revocation (Day for Day Credit given for administrative suspension/ revocation) 1 year/ 2 years if test refused 900 days/ 3 years if refused 4 year revocation
Obtain diagnostic substance use evaluation and follow recommendations. Required Expanded Evaluation Required Expanded Evaluation Required

**Ignition Interlock Device Restriction required in all cases (first IID restriction at least 1 year; 2nd IID restriction at least 5 years; 3rd at least 10 years)**

How a DUI Can Affect Your Everyday Life

Criminal Record

A DUI conviction is a serious criminal offense that can never be vacated (expunged) from your criminal record, and will show up on a background check for the rest of your life. A first DUI conviction can put a person’s career and livelihood in jeopardy 

Commercial Drivers (CDL) and Pilots

CDL Holders: A person who has a commercial driver’s license will lose their license for a year for a first offense DUI unless the court charge is reduced to a lesser offense, and the DOL hearing is won.
Pilots: All but military pilots must report the arrest and conviction on their FAA Airman’s Medical Form. A DUI conviction may put a commercial pilot’s career in jeopardy.  

Other Consequences

Other serious consequences of a first DUI may include:

  • Increase in the cost of insurance
  • Cancellation of insurance
  • Difficulty renting a car
  • Denial of entry to Canada for non-Canadian citizens

 

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Learn More about DUI Defenses and Evidence

If you or a loved one has been arrested for drunk driving, give us a call today to discuss your case.

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Contact one of our Experienced DUI Attorneys today and get the advice you need now.  Learn how to save your license and stay out of jail.

Linda M. Callahan - Author

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Disclaimer: The legal information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of a lawyer or attorney client relationship. Any results set forth herein are based upon the facts of that particular case and do not represent a promise or guarantee.  This web site is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the state of Washington.