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Understanding Washington State’s DUI Laws: What You Need to Know

Colburn Law

Drunk driving accidents have devastating consequences for all involved, often resulting in serious injuries or fatalities. In Washington state, driving under the influence (DUI) laws are strict, and penalties for drunk drivers can be severe. 

If you or a loved one have been the victim of a drunk driving accident, it’s important to understand the legal options available to you. In these situations, a Washington DUI accident attorney can help you hold the responsible party accountable and recover compensation to help pay for any losses that you suffered.

What Counts as a DUI in Washington?

Under Washington’s DUI laws, it is illegal for individuals to operate or have physical control of a motor vehicle under certain conditions. These include having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or more, a THC concentration of 5 nanograms or higher per milliliter of blood, or being under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or marijuana.

If a person’s BAC is 0.08% or higher, they can be charged with a per se DUI. However, even if your blood alcohol level is lower, you can still be charged with DUI if you are impaired by drugs or alcohol. If the police suspect that you are impaired, they can still arrest you even if your BAC is below the legal limit.

Penalties for DUI in Washington State

Penalties for DUI in Washington State

The penalties for a DUI conviction in Washington are severe and can include fines, jail time, and the loss of your driver’s license. The severity of the penalties depends on the number of DUI convictions you have had in the past and the circumstances of your current DUI charge.

For a first-time DUI offense, you can expect to face a minimum of 1 day and a maximum of 364 days in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, and the suspension of your driver’s license for 90 days. Penalties increase for each subsequent conviction, and a third offense in seven years can result in jail time of up to 364 days, six months in a 24/7 sobriety program, and fines of up to $10,000.

Legal Options for DUI Victims in Washington

If you have been the victim of a DUI accident in Washington, you have legal options to seek compensation for your injuries and losses. While the state pursues criminal charges against the drunk driver, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver as well. By filing a lawsuit, you can recover damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

In addition, Washington has a Crime Victims Compensation Program that provides financial assistance to victims of violent crimes, including DUI accidents. The program can cover expenses such as medical bills, counseling, and lost wages.

What to Do If You Are Injured by a Drunk Driver

After a DUI collision, you seek medical attention immediately, even if your injuries seem minor. Save all evidence related to the accident, including pictures, videos, and police reports. Then, contact a personal injury attorney with experience in DUI accident cases. 

A Washington DUI accident lawyer can help you navigate the legal process, fight for the compensation you deserve, and potentially recover damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Schedule a free consultation as soon as possible after your accident to discuss your case and plan your next steps.