DUI Laws in Washington
by Erik Price
Driving an automobile while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious crime. Not only is it dangerous to the person committing the act and everyone around him, but the legal consequences are often severe and can have lasting effects well into the offender's future. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) laws vary from state to state, so it's important for drivers traveling through Washington to be aware of local regulations and what to expect from local law enforcement.
Beer and driving don't mix.
Definition of DUI
In Washington, motorists driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, can be cited for DUI. If a driver is stopped and is suspected of having consumed alcohol, a breath or blood test will be given to determine the driver's blood alcohol level. Adults with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher will be cited for DUI. Anyone under the age of 21, with a blood alcohol level of .02 or higher will also be cited.
Traffic Stop for Suspected DUI
If you are pulled over while driving in Washington and the officer suspects that you are driving under the influence, he will first ask if you are under the influence of any substances. He may then ask you to take a field sobriety test. He may also require you to take a breathalyzer test, which will determine your blood alcohol level. It is your legal right to request a blood test following a breathalyzer if you doubt the results.
Refusing the Breathalyzer
In the state of Washington, when you receive your driver's license, you are automatically giving consent for a law officer to test your blood or breath for the presence of alcohol or drugs. If an officer pulls you over and informs you that you must take a breathalyzer test and you refuse, your license will automatically be revoked.
A citation for DUI includes a suspension of the motorist's driver's license. The duration of the suspension can range from 90 days to four years, depending on the driver's previous record and the recorded blood alcohol level at the time of arrest.
If you are licensed to operate a motor vehicle by a state other than Washington, be aware that a DUI citation will not only be recorded on your driving record in Washington, but will also be forwarded to the driver's home state for possible additional penalties. Washington will also take the necessary actions to ensure that the driver's license is revoked for the required amount of time, even after the driver returns to his home state.
In addition to the penalties that will be incurred from operating a vehicle without a license, unlicensed drivers can be cited for DUI just like a licensed driver. The state of Washington will create a driver's record for the unlicensed driver to record the citation, and this information will be available to officers in the event of a future offense.
Contesting a DUI
If you are cited for DUI, you have 20 days to request a hearing. A fee of $200 is required to request a hearing, and if the driver is found guilty of DUI, it will not be refunded.
- NorthwestWAWashingtonUSUnited States