Washington State DUI Laws

Washington State DUI laws classify DUI as a gross misdemeanor, and this charge will stay on a driver’s permanent record. If a driver is convicted of four or more DUIs, Washington State DUI laws will charge them with a felony. Either a misdemeanor or felony DUI charge will raise your car insurance rates. Enter your ZIP code below to get cheap DUI auto insurance.

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Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Jun 4, 2021

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When it comes to driving under the influence, Washington State DUI laws have strict consequences. Compare car insurance quotes after a DUI and save! If you are found guilty of drinking and driving, you can expect to serve some jail time in addition to paying heavy fines.

You can also expect to have your license suspended for some period of time or even revoked completely. Interlock devices may be required when you are allowed to drive again and your insurance rates will reflect that fact that you were found guilty of driving while intoxicated. Don’t lose money to  DUI! Use our ZIP code search and save money INSTANTLY with car insurance discounts!

The Burden of Proof

The prosecutor in the case must be able to prove certain things beyond a reasonable doubt. There are several different standards used within the state’s court system. One defines drunk driving as operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher and is known as the “per se” prong. Minors are considered to be driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content of .02 or higher. Drivers of commercial vehicles are considered be under the influence with a .04 or higher blood alcohol level. DUI laws in Washington are enforced heavily!

In Washington, a high blood alcohol content is not required to be guilty of driving under the influence. This occurs if the driver is found to be affected by either alcohol, drugs or a combination of the two, known as the “affected by” prong. This standard allows the state to charge a driver with DUI even if their blood alcohol content is below the .08 standard. Don’t expect find affordable car insurance after receiving a DUI!

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The Evidence

Washington State can allow more than just blood tests into evidence. The following may also be used against a driver in a DUI case.

  • Breath or blood tests as taken at the scene
  • Officer observations of bad driving such as weaving and erratic speed
  • Officer observations of the odor of alcohol or other intoxicants
  • Eyes that are watery and bloodshot at the time of the arrest
  • Slurred speech as noted by the officer
  • Poor coordination as noted by the officer
  • Other observations made by the officer that support the allegation of intoxication
  • The “affected by” prong will be used when a driver refuses to take a blood or breath test at the scene.
Compare state car insurance and make sure you are properly insured after a DUI!

What the Officer Can Ask and Do

Officers pulling over someone suspected of driving under the influence can ask certain questions. Here is what you can expect if you are stopped by police.

  • Questions regarding whether you have consumed alcohol or any form of drugs
  • A request to submit to a field sobriety test.
  • A request to submit to a breath test. You may also request to have a blood test taken. Drivers with blood alcohol content levels above .08 may be arrested on the site.
  • Refusal to submit to a breath test will result in the revocation of your license under Washington’s Implied Consent Law.
  • If there is a child under the age of 13 in the vehicle the officer may take the child into emergency custody.
If you do not have the state minimum insurance, you could receive some serious penalties. You cannot drive without insurance. Police will enforce this law along with your DUI!


Washington State classifies DUI as a gross misdemeanor. While not a felony, it will still go on the permanent criminal record and can follow you for the rest of your life. The state does not allow DUI convictions to be expunged or vacated. With a misdemeanor, you can expect your Washington State car insurance to rise!

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Repeat offenders may find themselves facing felony charges. A driver with four or more DUI convictions in a ten year period will face felony charges. Drivers who have previously been convicted for vehicular assault or vehicular homicide while under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be charged as felons, as well as drivers who have already been charged with a felony DUI. Finding cheap car insurance after a DUI felony can be very hard. Make sure you enter your ZIP code into the ZIP search above, in order to find the best deal!

License Suspension

The length of time your license will be suspended for depends on the offense. Suspensions range from 90 days to 4 years.

Out of State Drivers

Visitors to Washington who drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol will also face serious consequences.

  • The offense will be recorded on a Washington State driving record.
  • Driving privileges in the state of Washington can still be revoked.
  • The information will be sent to the issuing state for the license. They may take action according to their own state laws.

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Issues that are Considered

There are certain things that are taken into account when the court is determining what actions to take. The DMV point system could assign points to your license.

  • The legality of the arrest.
  • Whether the operator truly had reasonable cause to pull you over to begin with.
  • If you were advised of the Implied Consent Warnings.
  • Refusal or submission to the breath test or blood test.
  • The results of a blood or breath test.
  • Whether the blood or breath test was administered in full accordance with Washington State Toxicologist Rules.

The Consequences

Expect to serve some jail time and pay fines whether it’s your first offense or your third. The more often a driver is found to be driving drunk, the steeper the penalties become. All offenses may include the requirement of an Interlock device, Washington SR22 insurance and education classes on drug and alcohol use.

  • 1st Offense – The Jail time will range from 24 hours to one year or electronic home monitoring ranging from 15 days to 30 days. Fines can range from $865.50 to $5,000 and license suspension can be from 90 days to 1 year
  • 2nd Offense -Jail time will range from 30 days to one year with 60 days of electronic home monitoring mandatory. The fines increase in range from $1120.50 to $5,000 and the license suspension will be from 2 years to 900 days
  • 3rd Offense – Jail time can be from 90 days to 1 year with 120 days of electronic home monitoring. The fines go up again and will range from $1970.50 to $5,000 with license suspension of 3 or 4 years

Contesting a Suspension

DUI license suspensions can be contested by completing a form and paying a $200 non-refundable fee. The fee may be waived if your income falls below state poverty levels. Drivers can also request an Interlock device to allow them to drive specially equipped vehicles. Requesting an Interlock device will automatically waive your right to a hearing or appeal. Find the best car insurance companies for FREE and save the most money possible on car insurance!

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