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Questions about my Tacoma WA DUI Penalties

by | Apr 4, 2024 | DUI

Q: What happens if I get caught driving under the influence for the first time in Tacoma, Washington? A: DUI in Tacoma is the same as everywhere else in this Washington State.  Even a first-time offense is taken seriously. You’re looking at spending at least one uncomfortable night in jail, but it could be up to a year. If your BAC was on the higher side, or if you decided not to take the breathalyzer test, the law isn’t going to be in your favor. The fines start hefty at about $990 and can climb up to $5,000. And forget about zipping around in your car freely; your license could be on a 90-day hiatus, or even longer.

Q: What if I didn’t learn my lesson and got caught again? A: The stakes get higher with round two. The minimum jail time doubles to 30 days, and if your BAC still hasn’t learned to keep low, you might be looking at 45 days behind bars with an added 90-day house arrest. The fines also take a jump to start at $1,245.50. And as for driving, you might want to get cozy with public transport for up to 900 days because your license won’t be in your pocket.

Q: What if I’m facing my third DUI charge? Is it much worse? A: By the third offense, the state pulls out the big guns. Jail time starts at a daunting 90 days, but depending on your BAC, you might be swapping stories with your cellmate for up to a year. The fines start to feel like a hefty bill at $2,045.50 and can balloon to $5,000. Your license? Let’s just say you won’t be seeing it for a good 3 to 4 years. And yes, the ignition interlock device becomes your unwanted car buddy again.

Q: Are there any other consequences I should worry about? A: Beyond the immediate penalties, there’s more to the story. You might find yourself in an educational program learning about the dangers of alcohol and driving. If probation comes into play, it’ll come with its own set of rules. And when you finally get back on the road, your insurance rates will be sky-high. It’s not just about the law; it’s about how a DUI can fundamentally change your day-to-day life.

Q: What if my breathalyzer test shows a BAC over .15? How much worse are the penalties? A: When your BAC crosses the .15 mark, the consequences ramp up significantly. For a first offense, the “slap on the wrist” becomes a firm “thump,” with at least 48 hours in jail, but it can extend to a full year. The fines also get a bump, starting at around $1,245.50 and can go up to $5,000. And as for your driving privileges, expect a longer vacation from the roads with a suspension that could last up to a year.

Q: And what if I had a minor in the car while I was driving under the influence? A: Driving with a minor in the vehicle while under the influence adds a whole new level of gravity to your charges. The law sees this as an aggravating factor, leading to even stiffer penalties. While specific consequences can vary, you can generally expect longer jail times, higher fines, and an extended period of license suspension. It’s not just about you anymore; it’s about the safety and well-being of a minor, which the court takes very seriously.

Q: Do these aggravated factors influence penalties for second or third offenses as well? A: Absolutely. For subsequent offenses, the presence of an aggravating factor like a BAC over .15 or a minor in the vehicle compounds the already severe penalties. The minimum jail times increase, fines grow even larger, and you can say goodbye to your driving privileges for an extended period. Each offense with these aggravating factors is met with a heavier hand, underscoring the importance of making better decisions to avoid compounding your troubles.

Q: Is there anything I can do to reduce these penalties?  A. Hire the attorneys at the Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC.  We regular get DUIs reduced to lesser charges that do not have the mandatory penalties.  Similarly, jail time can be converted to house arrest or avoided altogether for serious medical and mental health reasons.  Please contact us to explore ways to fight and/or mitigate your case.