DUI Penalties

DUI Penalties in WA State: What You Need to Know

Were you arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) and worried about what comes next? 

For many individuals charged with a DUI, the thought of going to court is terrifying. That is why you need the skilled counsel of a Washington State DUI lawyer to walk you through the potential DUI penalties in WA State.

Individuals convicted of DUI in Washington State face some of the harshest DUI penalties in the country. Even for a first offense conviction, the DUI laws in Washington State are stringent. These penalties will, in most instances, depend on various factors, like whether this is your 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, were there any aggravating factors, and whether you submit to a Blood Alcohol Test (BAC test).

BAC less than .15 %   <>(Or No Test Result)No Prior DUI’s within Past 7 YearsOne Prior DUI   within Past 7 Years2 – 3 Priors DUI’s   within Past 7 Years
Jail Time24 hours minimumat least 30 daysat least 90 days
Electronic Detention /   Home ConfinementTo avoid jail, must serve at least 15 days60 days120 days
Fine / Assessments$350-$5,000   ($866 total min.)$500-$5,000   ($1,121 total min.)$1,000-$5,000   ($1,971 total min.)
Suspension / Revocation90-Day Suspension2-Year Revocation3-Year Revocation
Ignition Interlock    Required  RequiredRequired
Alcohol / Drug   Education or TreatmentDetermined By The CourtDetermined By The CourtDetermined By The Court
BAC .15 % or more;   Or Test RefusalNo Priors DUI’s within Past 7 YearsOne Prior DUI within Past 7 Years2 – 3 Priors DUI’s   within Past 7 Years
Jail Time48 hours minimumat least 45 daysat least 120 days
Electronic DetentionTo avoid jail, must serve at least 30 days90 Days150 Days
Fine / Assessments$500-$5,000   ($1,121 total min.)$750-$5,000   ($,1,546 total min.)$1,500-$5,000   ($2,821 total min.)
Suspension / Revocation1-Year Revocation;   2 years if BAC refusal900-Day Revocation;   3 years if BAC refusal4-Year Revocation
Ignition Interlock RequiredRequiredRequired
Alcohol / Drug   Education or TreatmentDetermined By The CourtDetermined By The CourtDetermined By The Court

Is A DUI in Washington State a Misdemeanor or Felony?

A first-time drunk driving or DUI charge in Washington State is usually a gross misdemeanor. The maximum penalty for a gross misdemeanor is 364 days in jail and a $5,000.00 fine. However, your charge could be upgraded to a Felony depending on your previous DUI and criminal traffic-related history.

Under RCW 46.61.502, your DUI will be charged as a felony if you have three or more “prior offenses” within ten years of your most recent DUI charge. In addition, your DUI can be charged as a felony if you have ever previously been convicted of either an alcohol-related vehicular homicide or vehicular assault.     

A felony DUI is considered a Class B felony. A Class B felony is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Considering the harsh punishment of a felony DUI, you need a DUI defense attorney in Tacoma, WA, to fight for your rights and freedom.

What Are the DUI Penalties in WA State?

DUI Penalties in WA State are very particular following a conviction. Depending on your DUI history, the state has different penalty classifications for DUI cases. All DUI convictions in WA State require a mandatory minimum punishment.

Here are some of the possible criminal and civil penalties to expect for a DUI conviction:

  • Jail time or house arrest
  • Probation and fines
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Commercial driver’s license suspension
  • Alcohol and drug treatment
  • Wearing a remote alcohol monitor
  • Mandatory ignition interlock device
  • WA SR-22 auto insurance
  • Probation

What Are the Minimum and Maximum Penalties for A Dui Offense?


First Offense WA DUI Laws

If you have no prior offenses within the last seven years and your BAC was below .15 or wasn’t administered, you will be sentenced to a minimum of 24 hours and a maximum of 364 days in jail. If your BAC was above .15 or you refused the test, you will face a mandatory 48 hours in jail.

Second Offense WA DUI Laws

If you have one prior DUI within a seven-year widow with your BAC below .15 or no BAC, then the minimum sentence is 30 days in jail, followed by 60 days of home arrest. The maximum penalty is 364 days in jail.

Those with a BAC of .15 and above or who refused the test face between 45 to 364 days in jail, followed by 90 days of home arrest / electronic home monitoring.

Third offense WA DUI Laws

If you have two prior DUI convictions within seven years, the WA State DUI penalties double. The mandatory minimum sentence for a DUI under .15 or with no BAC test is 90 days in jail, followed by 120 days of home arrest. If the BAC was .15 and above or you refused the test, the minimum sentence will be 120 days in jail, followed by 150 days of home confinement. The maximum sentence here is 364 days in jail.


A fourth DUI within ten years is automatically upgraded to a felony DUI. Sentencing will depend on the person’s history of criminal traffic convictions and felony convictions. 

If you are facing a felony DUI, you need an experienced Tacoma DUI defense attorney to help you build the best case strategy with the best possible outcome.


First Offense DUI

A first DUI offender with no BAC test or a BAC test of under .15 will have to pay a minimum fine of $990.50 and up to $5,000. If the BAC was at least .15 and above or the offender refused to submit the test, the minimum fine is $1,245.50 and up to $5,000.

Second Offense DUI

If a BAC test wasn’t administered or turned out under .15, the fines would be $1,245.50 to $5,000. If the offender refused the BAC test or came back with at least .15, the penalties will be between $1,670.50 and $5,000.

Third Offense DUI

The fines range between $2,095.50 and $5,000 if no chemical testing was done or the result was below .15. If the BAC test was .15 and above or the offender refused it, the fines range from $2,945.50 to $5,000.

Aggravating Factors

Several factors could enhance DUI penalties in WA State and increase the minimum sentence. For instance, driving with a passenger under 16 years old while committing a DUI offense could escalate the mandatory sentence. Carrying such a passenger during a DUI increases an extra 24 hours in jail for a first offender. The minimum fines in these scenarios can also substantially increase. 

What to Expect If You’re Arrested for A DUI in WA

You will likely face criminal penalties if you’re arrested or convicted of driving under the influence. These DUI penalties in WA State could be life-changing. You need to fight back and challenge the charges with the help of a DUI lawyer in Tacoma, WA. 

Evidence used in such cases is often technical and can be challenged with proper guidance and representation. For instance, your Washington State DUI lawyer can suppress the results from field sobriety tests. An experienced attorney will likely conduct an independent investigation to discover any points that could help strengthen your case. 

Do You Lose Your License Immediately After A DUI in Washington State?

Any DUI arrest in Washington comes with a mandatory license suspension or revocation. The Washington State Department of Licensing will automatically suspend it unless you request a hearing to contest the suspension within seven days of your arrest. It’s advisable to speak to your Tacoma DUI lawyer immediately, who can help you avoid the immediate license revocation/suspension.

How Long Do You Lose Your License for A DUI in Washington?

A license suspension may last between 90 days and four years. The length of suspension depends on the severity of the offense and the existence of prior violations on your record. Everyone’s situation is unique, so discussing your licensing issues with an experienced DUI lawyer is essential.  

A Legal Professional Helping You Fight A DUI Charge in Washington State

DUI charges in Washington State are complex and severe. Facing these penalties can be overwhelming and scary. Everyone makes mistakes in life, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay for them for the rest of your life. That is why it is vital to work closely with an attorney who understands the intricacies of a DUI and can turn the case inside out, looking for ways to give you the best possible outcome. Our DUI defense law firm can help you navigate the entire process. Whether you wish to fight it at trial or settle the case through a deal, we’re ready to advise you.