A first time DUI in all 50 states is classified as a misdemeanor crime for anyone caught driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. For this, a person can receive up to 1 year in jail, license suspension, and steep fines. In Washington, a convicted DUI offender also stands to have an ignition interlock device installed on any vehicle he drives for at least one year. This is a pretty standard approach to tackle DUI throughout the US.
Felony DUI charges are not so straightforward. In Washington, a DUI used to result in felony charges if the person had 4 or more prior DUIs within 10 years. A 5th DUI conviction was classified as a Class C felony, with a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Today, in an effort to reduce drunk driving fatalities and curb the behavior of repeat DUI offenders, Washington State lawmakers passed House Bill 2280.
House Bill 2280
As of March 2016, repeat DUI offenders can expect harsher penalties. House Bill 2280 unanimously passed the Washington House and Senate in addition to collecting State Governor Jay Inslee’s signature making it an official law. This law goes after repeat DUI offenders who have committed DUI more than 4 times in 10 years.
Moving a 5th DUI conviction in a period of 10 years from a Class C Felony to a Class B Felony doubles the penalties from a 5 year prison sentence to a 10 year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine to a $20,000 fine. Drivers who have been convicted of a DUI after receiving a conviction for vehicular homicide or assault while intoxicated now face a Class B felony as well.
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that 29% of DUI-convicted drivers are repeat offenders. An average of 4,000 are arrested daily for driving under the influence. The new Washington DUI law is definitely something for drivers to be aware of, especially if they enjoy using substances that can change their psychological state of mind.
Washington State is one of just a few states (along with Oregon, Alaska, and District of Columbia) to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. While using marijuana is now legal– so long as it is on private property and outside of public view– cops are very much on the lookout for people driving under the influence of a marijuana high. DUI can result from alcohol, marijuana, a combination of the two, or from any kind of drugs that affect driving ability.
If you are facing felony DUI charges in Washington, you need strong legal representation. A skilled DUI lawyer is your best chance to keep your driver’s license. Consult with Attorney Daniel J. Murphy, Jr. at no charge to get started on your Washington DUI defense. Call (253) 312-6122 today.