Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
“Per Se” or over the limit.
RCW 46.61.502(1)(a) makes it illegal to drive in Washington and have an alcohol concentration of .08 or higher within 2 hours of driving. It is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content at or above this level regardless of whether the person driving was “drunk.” It does not matter if a person appears perfectly normal, if a breath or blood test shows an alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, it is illegal.
RCW46.61.502(1)(b) and (c) make it illegal to drive in Washington while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination. These sections are used if there is no alcohol testing or if the testing shows a concentration below the .08 level. To show that a person is “under the influence”; the government must show that a person’s ability to drive was impaired to an appreciable degree. This is where the Officer’s observations and Field Sobriety Tests are used.
Physical Control of a Vehicle
RCW 46.61.504 makes it illegal to be in Physical Control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This charge does not require proof that the person charged was driving. All that is needed is to show that the person was capable of exerting control over the vehicle.
Mandatory Minimum Sentencing
Washington has a sentencing scheme for those convicted of DUI that is based on two factors. First is the number of prior DUI convictions a person has within the last 7years. Second is the alcohol concentration. The lowest level DUI or “1A” requires a minimum of one day in jail and $865.50 in fines if convicted or a guilty plea is entered. For a complete breakdown of the minimum sentences, look at the sentencing grid.
For sentencing, Washington looks at prior DUI convictions from the last seven years. Included in this are all DUI convictions from Washington and other States as well as convictions for: Physical Control, Vehicular Assault and Vehicular Homicide if committed while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Also included are convictions for Negligent Driving 1st Degree, Reckless Driving and Reckless Endangerment if the charges were originally filed as DUI or Physical Control.
Department of Licensing
Being arrested for DUI triggers two independent cases. One is the criminal case and the other is with the Washington State Department of Licensing. You have 20 days from arrest or notice of action to request a hearing with DoL. You can request a hearing on line here. If you do not request the hearing in time, your license will be suspended. Suspensions last from 90 days to 2 years depending on whether you took the breath test and how many prior suspensions you have had.