People facing a Washington DUI are often concerned about whether the charge is a felony - punishable by a year or more in prison - or a misdemeanor.
While Washington has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country, unless there are extenuating circumstances a first-time DUI is usually not a felony.
However, there are a number of factors that can raise a Washington DUI to a felony DUI. Chief among these are prior convictions. Out-of-state convictions for comparable offenses will also be used in Washington for purposes of determining whether a DUI will be charged as a felony DUI.
A Washington DUI will be charged as a felony DUI if it is the fourth DUI or physical control charge in 10 years, if the defendant has ever been convicted of vehicular homicide or vehicular assault while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if the defendant has ever been previously convicted of a felony DUI.
The most common reason a Washington DUI will be charged as a felony DUI is if a defendant has certain prior offenses. Under RCW 46.61.5055(14), the following prior offenses elevate a DUI to a felony DUI, whether committed under state or local law or in violation of a comparable out-of-state law:
Washington felony DUI is now a class B offense, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000. The sentence will be calculated using an offender score, which is based on points for the type of crime committed, the severity of the crime, and prior convictions.
Conviction for a Washington felony DUI will also result in a mandatory license suspension. A defendant may be eligible for installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) that will allow the driver to have work privileges.
If you or someone you care about is facing a felony DUI in Washington, it is imperative that you seek the assistance of a qualified felony DUI defense attorney as quickly as possible.
A felony DUI is a serious charge; however, the severity of a conviction can be mitigated by a strong defense.
A felony DUI defense attorney might be able to have the charges reduced, negotiate a lighter sentence, or even have the case dismissed.
Washington felony DUI defense attorney Justin Campbell has helped hundreds of people in Anacortes, Mount Vernon, Burlington, and Sedro-Woolley, as well as Oak Harbor, Coupeville, Langley, Freeland, Clinton, and Friday Harbor who have been charged with a DUI.