First DUI Offense? What You Need to Know.
If you or someone you know is facing their first DUI offense, it is important to understand that the potential penalties can be severe. But there is good news: statistically speaking, someone facing a first offense for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is significantly more likely to have the charges reduced than someone who has been charged with a DUI before. While a reduction in charges is not automatic, there is hope. Working with experienced DUI defense attorney Justin Campbell increases the likelihood of a successful result.
Washington DUI Laws
Under Washington DUI laws, a person is guilty of driving under the influence if they are driving a vehicle and:
- Have an alcohol concentration of .08 or higher
- Have a THC concentration of 5 or higher
- Are under the influence or affected by liquor, marijuana, or any drug
- Are under the combined influence of or affected by liquor, marijuana, and another drug
Penalties for a First DUI Offense
A Washington DUI is a gross misdemeanor of the first degree. Washington imposes mandatory penalties, even for a first DUI offense.
Fines and Jail Time
Penalties for a DUI conviction include a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 364 days in jail.
If someone was injured or killed in an accident and you were driving under the influence, you will likely be charged with vehicular assault or vehicular homicide.
After a Washington DUI charge, you potentially face two different license suspensions. The first is through the Department of Licensing and occurs if you were arrested on suspicion of a DUI. The license suspension goes into effect 30 days from the date you were arrested. The only way to potentially avoid this suspension is by requesting a hearing within 7 days from the date of arrest.
The second license suspension comes if you are convicted of DUI or Physical Control. For a first-time offense with no aggravating factors, the DUI license suspension typically lasts for 90 days. However, a high breath test DUI or refusal case can result in a 1-year or 2-year revocation, even on a first offense.
Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
Courts may require that you install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) to prevent you from operating the vehicle if your alcohol concentration is above a specified limit. With an IID installed, you must blow into the device to check your alcohol concentration before starting the car. If your alcohol concentration is above the limit, the car will not start. A first time DUI conviction will result in a 1-year IID requirement from the Department of Licensing.
Electronic Home Detention
After a DUI conviction, the judge may impose Electronic Home Detention (EHD), also known as “house arrest.” If you are placed on house arrest, you will have an ankle monitor installed to track your movement.
Counseling or Drug Treatment
If convicted, the judge will also impose mandatory drug or alcohol counseling or treatment as part of your sentence. You will need to complete the court-mandated program before your license will be reinstated. Failure to complete the program can result in additional legal consequences. This can result in probation monitoring fees as well.
Arraignment After a First DUI Offense
Some prosecutors are relatively lenient towards a person facing a first DUI offense, others are not. Without additional aggravating factors, the court will usually impose standard probation conditions. Some standard requirements are that you do not consume alcohol, do not drive without a valid license and insurance, and do not engage in criminal conduct. You must promise to appear at all court dates.
But you should never assume that the court will be lenient just because it is your first DUI. And if there were aggravating factors, such as a high alcohol concentration, children in the vehicle, or if people were injured or killed in an accident, the restrictions will be much more severe.
For a first DUI offense, you may be able to have your case dismissed through a Deferred Prosecution. Deferred Prosecution is an alternative to conviction and is available to people who have an alcohol or drug dependency problem and will benefit from treatment. If you are accepted and successfully complete the program, you will not be convicted and will not serve jail time or pay fines. But successful completion of a Deferred Prosecution program requires tremendous self-control and is not for the faint of heart. You should not consider Deferred Prosecution as an easy way out of a DUI, and there are considerable downsides if you fail to comply with the requirements of the program. Under current law, a Deferred Prosecution doesn’t make sense for most people on a first DUI offense. However, there are always exceptions. This is why it is important to consult with an experienced DUI attorney to determine 1) if you qualify for a Deferred Prosecution (not everyone does), and 2) if it makes sense in your particular case.
Defending Against a First DUI Offense
Defending against a DUI charge is highly technical and incredibly complex. There are scientific issues about the reliability of the equipment used to test your alcohol concentration and the admissibility of the test results, as well as legal concerns about whether the traffic stop was justified, whether evidence should be admitted, and whether your rights were violated.
To successfully defend against a first DUI charge, you need an experienced DUI defense lawyer on your side who understands Washington DUI law and will fight to protect your rights.
When you hire Washington DUI defense attorney Justin Campbell, he will be by your side and will fight to protect your rights and minimize the consequences of a DUI charge.
Based in Anacortes, the Campbell Law Firm proudly represents people accused of crimes in Island County, Oak Harbor, Coupeville, San Juan County, Friday Harbor, and all courts in Skagit County, including Anacortes, Mount Vernon, Burlington, and Sedro-Woolley.