What Are The Penalties For A First-Time DUI In Washington State?


Although a first-time DUI in some states isn’t such a big deal, things aren’t so easy when it comes to Washington. Washington has some of the harshest DUI penalties in the U.S. According to Seattle DUI lawyers, a first-time DUI in Washington is often labeled as a gross misdemeanor.

The maximum penalty for a first-time DUI in WA is a $5,000 fine and 364 days in jail. When a conviction is entered, a judge is required to impose mandatory minimum sentences. Since Washington is so harsh regarding DUIs, the best thing to do is contact a respectable DUI lawyer to fight for you.

Criminal and Civil Penalties

If you are charged or convicted for a gross misdemeanor DUI in Washington, Seattle, it can result in several penalties, including the following:

  • Fines and probation
  • House arrest (electronic home monitoring) or jail time 
  • Driver’s license suspension (including out-of-state)
  • Commercial driver’s license suspension 
  • WA SR-22 auto insurance (financial responsibility certificate proof)
  • Drug or alcohol treatment
  • Remote alcohol monitor (wearing a SCREAM device)
  • Mandatory ignition interlock device

You can face enhanced DUI penalties in WA if you refuse a breathalyzer test at the police station, a blood draw at the hospital, or if your breathalyzer test result is .15 or more. This might also apply if it’s your first DUI in Washington. If it isn’t, the penalties will increase.

Breath Test Below the Legal Limit

Even if your breath test is below the legal limit, DUIs are still aggressively prosecuted. The legal limit is .08 for adults and 0.02 for minors under the age of 21. Suppose the prosecutor can prove that your driving ability was impaired despite the small amount of alcohol in your system. In that case, you will be charged with a DUI.

Drug DUI & Physical Control DUI

In Washington, the criminal penalties that you might face for a DUI resulting from illegal and prescription drugs or marijuana are basically the same as for an alcohol DUI. Most drugs don’t have a presumed level of intoxication. However, regarding marijuana DUIs, the presumed level of intoxication is five nanograms of THC per ml of blood.

The prosecutor will try to prove your intoxication based on the field sobriety and blood tests you were subjected to. Even if you weren’t driving the vehicle when you were arrested, you could still be charged with a DUI in Washington. A Physical Control DUI comes with the same penalties as a driving DUI.

Why You Should Contact a DUI Lawyer in Washington

Since DUI penalties are so harsh in Washington, you should contact an attorney to help with your case. An attorney might be able to prove that your vehicle was safely off the roadway, which can dismiss your Physical Control DUI charges.

Even though breathalyzer and field sobriety tests are the prime incriminating factors in a DUI case, they are highly flawed, and a good lawyer might be able to prove this. Your DUI lawyer can perform their own independent investigation to help your case. With a dedicated lawyer by your side, you can receive lesser punishments or have your charges dropped entirely, even in a state with harsh DUI laws such as Washington.