Washington has some of the harshest DUI laws in the country. Even if you are being charged with a first-time offense, it can be important to consult an experienced Seattle DUI attorney following an arrest for drunk or drugged driving. The sentence for subsequent DUI convictions will be harsher if you have already been convicted of one DUI. It is important to protect your future by retaining a lawyer who understands all your options and can help you develop a strong defense strategy. A DUI is considered a first-time DUI if you haven't had any prior DUI convictions within the last seven years.First-Time DUI
In Washington, it is unlawful to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You can be convicted of a first-time DUI in several situations. First, you can be convicted if you drove while impaired by drugs or alcohol such that your ability to drive was reduced in any meaningful degree. Second, you can be convicted if you're caught operating a motor vehicle while you have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or more. This is a per se DUI. Third, you can be convicted of a first-time DUI if you're caught with five nanograms or more of THC per mililiter of blood, which is a per se marijuana DUI.
Generally, under Washington DUI law, the lowest penalties are imposed in connection with impairment DUIs and situations in which drivers are caught with a blood alcohol content that is under .15%. There are harsher consequences when a driver is caught with a .15% BAC or higher, even if it is a first offense.Consequences for First-Time DUI
You may face both administrative and criminal penalties for a first-time DUI. The Washington State Department of Licensing imposes administrative penalties. Some of the penalties may be imposed as a result of being arrested for a DUI, even if you aren't convicted in court. If you are found to be driving with a BAC of at least .08% or you meet the 5 nanograms of marijuana threshold, you will face a 90-day administrative license suspension. If you refused chemical testing, you may face one year of your license being administratively suspended.
If you are convicted of a first-time DUI, you will also need to install an ignition interlock device on your car for at least a year at your own expense. The time is extended to 18 months for a DUI first-time offender who was transporting a minor under age 16 in his car at the time of the DUI.
The criminal penalties you may face are imposed by the court only if you are convicted of a first-time DUI. If you're charged with a first-time DUI and your BAC was .08%-.15% or your faculties were impaired while you were driving, you are facing the possibility of a gross misdemeanor conviction. You can face 1 to 364 days in jail and fines of $550-$5200. You may face a minimum of 15 days of being monitored through electronic home monitoring or 90 days in a sobriety program. Your license will be suspended for 90 days.
However, the penalties are greater for a first-time DUI involving refusal to take a chemical test or a BAC of at least .15%. This is also a gross misdemeanor charge, but you can face 2 to 364 days incarceration and fines of $700-$5200. You can be penalized with a minimum of 30 days of electronic home monitoring or 120 days in a sobriety program that is run 24/7. Penalties are worsened if you had a passenger who was under age 16 while you were driving drunk. Often judges also order first-time offenders to be enrolled in a substance abuse treatment program.Consult an Experienced DUI Attorney in Seattle
If you were arrested or charged with a first-time DUI in Seattle, it is wise retain a skillful DUI defense lawyer who understands the potential consequences and how to fight these charges. At Blair & Kim, we have the knowledge and experience to counsel our clients through difficult situations, and tailor a defense strategy to each individual situation. Based in Seattle, our firm represents people in Kings County, Redmond, Kirkland, and Bellevue. Call us at (206) 622-6562 or contact us via our online form.