If you are arrested for DUI, you may face civil penalties and if convicted, criminal penalties. Civil penalties are imposed through the Department of Licensing administrative process. Criminal penalties arising from a conviction and are imposed by the court of jurisdiction.
Civil Penalties for a DUI
When you are arrested for a DUI, there may be civil penalties imposed regardless of whether you are convicted or even charged with a DUI.
Suspension or Revocation of Driving privileges
If your breath test result is .08 or greater, the Department of Licensing will suspend your privilege to drive in Washington if:
- You do not challenge the suspension by seeking an administrative hearing with the DOL within 20 days; or
- After the administrative hearing, the Department of Licensing (DOL) rules against you and sustains the suspension.
The police officer administering your breath test is required to notify the DOL if your breath test result is above the legal limit regardless of whether a DUI charge is ever filed. Drivers have 20 days from the date of their arrest to request a DOL hearing. If a driver fails to request a hearing within 20 days, their right to a hearing is waived and the suspension automatically follows. There are many benefits to requesting a DOL hearing. Drivers should consult an attorney and discuss their options well in advance of the 20-day deadline.
Administrative Commercial Driver's License (CDL) Revocation
If a CDL holder is arrested for DUI and one of the following applies, the Department of Licensing provides a notice of intent to revoke the CDL, and in most cases, the personal driver's license as well:
- Driving a personal vehicle and providing a breath sample over the legal limit for alcohol.
- Driving a personal vehicle and refusing to provide a breath or blood sample as requested by law.
- Driving a commercial vehicle with a breath or blood alcohol content of .04 or higher.
- Driving a commercial vehicle with any detectable level of marijuana.
You have 20 days from the time of the stop to request a hearing to contest the suspension. When the violation occurs while driving a personal vehicle, the DOL may send out a separate notice of intent to suspend the CDL at a later date. Make sure the DOL has an accurate address of record on file so you don't miss any licensing notifications.
Ignition Interlock Device
If you are charged with a DUI and you have a prior DUI conviction, the law requires the judge to order you to install an ignition interlock device in your car while your case is pending.
Criminal Penalties for a DUI
The criminal consequences for a DUI conviction may include mandatory minimum sentences. Aggravating conditions such as having a child under the age of 16 in the car at the time of your DUI arrest will result in enhanced criminal penalties.
When a person is convicted of DUI, the court will impose a sentence and require probation to monitor sentence compliance. At sentencing, a judge will impose and then suspend some of the jail and fine in exchange for the individual's compliance with certain terms and conditions. Typical conditions include:
- obtain a chemical dependency evaluation and complete any recommended treatment
- attend a DUI victim panel
- no driving without a valid license and insurance
- install an ignition interlock as required by the DOL
- license suspension as determined by DOL
- no new criminal law violations
- no refusal of a lawfully requested blood or breath test
- pay all legal financial obligations
- notify probation of any change of address
If You are Charged with DUI...
If you are charged with DUI, there are steps your attorney can take to challenge the charge. Contact Pewitt Law Group, PLLC today for a free consultation to discuss your circumstances.