Imagine you have your day in court for a DUI. You and lawyer have tried your best to fight off the charges, but you were either convicted or had to take a DUI plea bargain. Washington's DUI laws can be strict, and if you are convicted or you have plead guilty, you may not know what will happen to you. It is important to know the sentencing guidelines of the state before accepting a plea. Likewise, if you're going to trial on these charges, you should know what you may be facing should the jury decide to convict. Washington's sentencing guidelines are outlined in RCW 46.61.5055. The courts themselves also archve past and present sentencing guidelines.
Although there are a number of aggravating circumstances that can affect your DUI penalties, in general, Washington State has these punishments split into two separate tiers: DUI with blood alcohol content lower than .15% and DUI with blood alcohol content .15% and above. Higher blood alcohol content and repeat offenses will land more severe sentencing terms. There are a number of factors that can influence what the sentencing guidelines are, and on top of this, skilled attorneys will be able to call for some sentencing alternatives.
If you refuse a blood alcohol content test, your sentencing guidelines will be assigned to BAC above .15% penalties. Penalties can include jail time, electronic home monitoring, or rehabilitation, with each term given guidelines for minimum and maximum terms for the sentencing.
Blood Alcohol Content Below .15%
Even with a lower blood alcohol content, a DUI can still land you in jail. On top of this, there are a number of circumstances that can exacerbate your situation, for instance, driving with a minor under the age of 16, or if you have an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. See the table below for a summarization of the courts sentencing guidelines for DUI events with BAC below .15%.
Most DUIs carry certain mandatory minimum penalties as well as a certain maximum penalty that can be imposed. For a standard DUI, the judge can impose one of the following sentences:
- First DUI: 24 hours to 364 days in jail, $940.50 to $5000 in fines, 90 day license suspension
- Second DUI: 30 days to 364 days in jail, $1195.50 to $5000 in fines, 2 year license revocation
- Third or Fourth DUI: 90 days to 364 days in jail, $2045.50 to $5000 in fines, 3 year license revocation
If your DUI had the aggravating circumstance of a passenger under the age of 16 in the car, you will likely see harsher penalties either in addition to or instead of the penalties you are facing already. The sentencing for this will carry penalties such as:
- First DUI: Additional 24 hours in jail, $1000 in fines as a minimum, can also have a range from $1000-$5000 plus any additional assessments
- Second DUI: Additional 5 days in jail, $1000 in fines as a minimum, can also have a range from $2000-$5000 plus any additional assessments
- Third or Fourth DUI: Additional 10 days in jail, $1000 in fines as a minimum, can also have a range from $3000-$10,000 plus any additional assessments
If you and your attorney are able to negotiate down to a jail alternative, you may be assigned electronic home monitoring. This is what most people assume as "house arrest" however, depending on your attorney and certain circumstances, you may be allowed to travel to and from work. The sentencing for electronic home monitoring is as follows:
- First DUI: 15 days of home monitoring in lieu of jail
- Second DUI: 60 days of home monitoring, 4 days of jail minimum
- Third or Fourth DUI: 120 days of home monitoring, 8 days of jail minimum
The Washington DOL makes the determination for the installation and time period for ignition interlock devices. If a passenger under 16 is present, however, you will incur an additional 6 months with the interlock device for any offense level.
Blood Alcohol Content .15% And Above or Test Refusal
Having a blood alcohol content of .15% and above, as well as refusal to take a breath test can land you with more severe penalties. These typically include higher minimums, and also may include additional punishments. Punishments for a DUI above .15% BAC include:
- First DUI: 48 hours to 364 days in jail, $1195.50 to $5000 in fines, 1 year license revocation for .15% or above BAC, 2 years revocation for test refusal
- Second DUI: 45 days to 364 days in jail, $1620 to $5000 in fines, 900 day revocation for .15% BAC or above BAC, three years if for test refusal
- Third or Fourth DUI: 120 days to 364 days in jail, $2895.50 to $5000 in fines, 4 year revocation for either circumstance
The aggravating circumstance of having a passenger under 16 in the car carries the same penalties as it would with a test refusal or a blood alcohol content of .15% or above. Likewise, the Washington DOL will make any determination regarding an interlock device, and if there is a minor in the car, you will see the time period with the interlock increase by 6 months as well.
If you and your attorney are able to negotiate for electronic home monitoring in lieu of jail time, these sentences are impacted as well. The sentencing is as follows:
- First DUI: 30 days of home monitoring in lieu of jail time
- Second DUI: 90 days of home monitoring, 6 days jail minimum
- Third or Fourth DUI: 150 days of home monitoring, 10 days jail minimum
Rehabilitation/Substance Abuse Treatments and Measures
Sometimes, the judge may assign a DUI offender to a program for substance abuse or rehabilitation. These are not considered mandatory sentencing practices, however, they do occur at the discretion of the court. They are also not regularly used as sentencing alternatives to jail time, however you may be sentenced to attend a program in addition to whatever sentencing the judge has already assigned.
If you or a loved on is currently facing DUI charges, you need representation. Contact Steve Karimi today to see what your options are.