Washington State Alcohol Laws

Drunk driving laws vary by state. The DUI laws in Washington are some of the most strict in the nation. Driving under the influence laws apply to both drugs and alcohol and carry very severe penalties including license suspension, fines, and jail time.

DUI penalties in Washington State include criminal penalties in court, as well as administrative penalties from the Department of Licensing (DOL). The laws and penalties can vary depending on age, blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and the number of previous offenses. Continue reading to go over the Washington State DUI laws and penalties.

BAC Levels in Washington

Most drivers believe that you can only be charged with a DUI if your BAC level is .08% or higher. In reality, a DUI arrest can vary depending on the circumstances of the arrest. In Washington State, a driver can be arrested for a DUI if their BAC is:

  • 0.08%, for anyone 21 years and over
  • 0.04%, for anyone driving a commercial vehicle
  • 0.02%, for anyone younger than 21 years old

If you have been charged with a DUI or related charge, contact a Seattle DUI attorney today.

Washington State DUI Penalties

When arrested for a DUI, there are mandatory penalties you will likely face from both the court system and the DOL. Penalties can result from:

  • The initial DUI arrest
  • A court conviction
  • DOL penalties after the DUI court conviction.

DOL Penalties After the Initial Arrest

After the DUI arrest, you will be sent a license suspension notice from the DOL. The DOL will suspend your license anywhere between 90 days and 2 years, depending on the conditions of the arrest. The DOL license suspension will begin 60 days after the initial arrest.

The DOL license suspension can be fought by requesting an administrative hearing within 20 days. You will also have to pay a non-refundable fee of $375.

A few things to keep in mind. Even if your charges are reduced or dismissed in court, the DOL will still take action to suspend your license. Additionally, if you are cleared of the DUI at the DOL administrative hearing, you may still be convicted of the DUI in court.

Court Convictions

If you are convicted of a DUI in court, the penalties will vary depending on the following circumstances:

  • Drivers license suspension of 90 days
  • 1 to 364 days in jail
  • Fines of $940 to $5,000

If your BAC level was .15% or more OR you refused to take the BAC test, penalties may include:

  • Drivers license suspension for 1 year for BAC level or 2 years if the BAC test was refused
  • 2 to 364 days in jail
  • Fines of $1,195.50 to $5,000

If you have had a prior DUI conviction within the last 7 years, you could face increased penalties in court.

Ignition Interlock Driver’s License

If you license is suspended but you would like to continue driving, you will have the option to apply for an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) License. In order to apply for the IID license, you will need to:

  • Fill out and submit a Restricted Driver License Application.
  • Have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle by a certified installer. The installer will send proof of installation to the DOL.
  • Provide proof of SR22 financial responsibility.
  • Pay $100 application fee.
  • Submit all documents to DOL.

All fees and costs associated with the IID and license are the responsibility of the driver. This may include installation, maintenance, and leasing fees.

Washington State Driver’s License Reinstatement

Once your license suspension period is up and you have completed all court requirements, you will have the ability to apply for a license reinstatement. Reinstatement requirements will vary depending on the circumstances and severity of the DUI but may include:

  • Completion of drug and alcohol treatment and/or education program
  • Application submission through the DOL
  • Payment of reinstatement fee of $150

Being fully informed of Washington State's DUI laws can prevent you from being arrested for a DUI, or help you in the event that you are arrested. Matthew Leyba is the highest rated DUI attorney according to Avvo.com. If you have been arrested for a DUI or similar charge in the Seattle area, contact Matthew today for a free 60-minutes, no pressure consultation.


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