Drunk driving is an offense that no state in the US takes lightly. If you are pulled over for suspected drunk driving and are determined to be incapable of safely operating your vehicle, then you will be charged with driving under the influence, or DUI. While each state has different punishments for DUI, it is typically always penalized as a misdemeanor offense.
In the state of Washington, first, second, and third time DUI offenders will face the following misdemeanor punishments:
· A jail sentence of up to 1 year
· A $5000 fine
· Driver’s license revocation for up to 4 years
· 5 years of probation
· Up to 10 days of electronic home detention
· Possible treatment for alcohol abuse
Fourth time offenders, however, as well as those with more than four convictions, will be charged with felony DUI and will face much more severe punishment.
Felony DUI in Washington is committed when an offender is convicted of four or more instances of DUI within a ten year time period. DUI offenders can also be convicted of felony DUI if they have had a previous conviction of vehicular homicide or vehicular assault, either in the state of Washington or anywhere else in the nation.
Felony DUI is considered to be a Class C felony, which is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
Vehicular homicide is not necessarily a result of DUI, although drunk driving is one of the main driving factors behind this offense. If an intoxicated or reckless driver kills another person as a result of his or her negligent actions, then he or she has committed vehicular homicide. This is considered to be a Class A felony, and it is punishable by up to life in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.
Underage Drinking and Driving
The state of Washington, like many other states across the nation, supports a zero-tolerance policy with regards to underage drinking and driving. Anyone under the age of 21 who is caught operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level above 0.02% will be charged with Minor DUI. The penalties for committing this offense are a fine of $1,000, 90 days in jail, and a year-long driver’s license suspension.
If you have been pulled over for and charged with DUI, then you will need a qualified DUI defense lawyer to protect you in court. The Seattle DUI defense lawyers of Cowan, Kirk & Gaston can help with your situation. To learn more, please visit http://cowanlawfirm.com/.