DUI & DWI in Washington
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Washington's Department of Licensing (DOL) reminds motorists that drinking alcohol and driving increases your chances of being involved in an accident that could kill another driver, passengers, or yourself.
In fact, alcohol is involved in nearly half of all traffic collisions that result in death, according to the DOL. The reason is that alcohol, even a single drink, impairs drivers' abilities by slowing down reaction time, decreasing alertness, and increasing drowsiness.
Because of the seriousness of the crime of drinking or using illegal drugs and driving, the penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) are stiff in Washington.
You will be arrested for DUI in Washington if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. For those under 21, a BAC of 0.02%, or simply the presence of any alcohol in the system of a teen driver, could also be the basis for a DUI arrest.
Washington's implied consent law dictates that having a driver's license represents the holder's agreement to take a breath or blood test to determine whether drugs or alcohol are present in your system. If you refuse to take a BAC test, you will forfeit your driver's license and driving privileges for at least one year.
In addition to the risk of injury or death that comes with drinking and driving, there are a number of financial and other penalties that come with just being arrested for DUI. These include:
- Suspension of your license.
- Revocation of your license for one year if you refuse a BAC test.
- For a second or subsequent DUI arrest in Washington in a seven-year time frame, your license will be revoked for two years or until age 21, whichever is longer.
- Proof-of-insurance requirements (SR-22).
- Reapplication requirementfor your license, including knowledge and skills tests, and fees.
- DUI arrest on your driving record for 15 years.
- Loss or seizure of your vehicle.
A first DUI conviction in Washington is punishable by $5,000 plus other possible penalties from the courts, including jail time. Washington drivers face as much as one year in jail and the suspension of their license for 90 days with a first DUI conviction. Repeat offenders could be sentenced to other penalties, including home detention, license suspension, or revocation for as long as four years.
You can see why if you're charged with DUI it's probably a good idea to get an attorney who specializes in DUI cases to help you defend yourself in court.
While there are some exceptions for motor homes and campers, open alcohol containers are not allowed in moving vehicles in Washington. This includes passengers.
More information about DUI in Washington is available from the DOL.
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