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DUI Laws in Washington

Washington has some of the strictest, most draconian laws regarding DUI in America. RCW 46.61.5055 requires mandatory jail time, mandatory loss of license, mandatory fines, mandatory ignition interlock, and mandatory treatment as just the start of the penalties. Some of the collateral losses are mandatory high risk insurance that will be required and the loss of the ability to visit Canada (A DUI in Canada is a felony and Canadian immigration will not let those convicted of DUI through the border). Sometimes, just having been charged with a DUI prevents travel to Canada as the border agents do not always understand the difference between an accusation and a conviction.

Additionally, there are increased penalties depending on if you refused to take the breath or blood test or had a blood alcohol concentration .15 or above. And for every additional DUI you have on your record, or an offense treated as a prior DUI by RCW 46.61.5055 (physical control, deferred prosecution, negligent driving in the first degree amended from DUI, reckless driving or endangerment amended from DUI). Those penalties increase dramatically until on the fifth DUI a person is looking at years of prison time. One final consequence to note is that you will almost certainly lose your right to drive by a license suspension by the Department of Licensing (DOL) unless you get an attorney veteran in DOL hearings right away.

Many people are now aware that while Marijuana is legal to consume (if you are over 21 years of age) it is illegal to drive under the influence of THC. Much like .08 of alcohol is presumed to affect your driving, 5 ng of THC is presumed to affect your driving too. Unlike .08 for alcohol, there are NO studies supporting the 5 ng standard. Marijuana was illegal so they could not study it. Many experts are of the opinion that a driver could easily still have 5 ng of THC in their blood from consuming marijuana the day before.

Many people do not know that ANY substance in your system, legal or otherwise, from methamphetamine to prescription Ambien, can be the basis for a DUI charge if law enforcement believes it affected your ability to control a motor vehicle. Even if you are taking the medication as prescribed. The attorneys are Smith & White, PLLC have a unique defense to prescription DUIs stemming from old case law related to the mens rea, mental state, required to commit a crime. And frankly, many prosecutor’s offices are not familiar with the effects of prescription medication to know if the perceived “bad driving” is even a result of that medicine or something unrelated. Let the DUI defense attorneys at Smith & White educate them for you.

If you have charged with a crime of driving while under the influence or physical control, you need an attorney with the compassion to hear your side of the case and the passion to defend you in court than contact our office.

Our Main Tacoma DUI Defense Law Office

For an intake with our Tacoma DUI defense lawyers, call the mainline at (253) 203-1645. Or email

Client Reviews
I was represented by James White and have been nothing but satisfied with the outcome. Jame is very efficient and eliminates much of the stress that the judicial system can place on an offender. I am very grateful to have such a great attorney and owe him my gratitude for helping me when times were rough. Not only is he professional, but he is also someone you can talk to on a personal level. I highly recommend James White and would undoubtedly use him again in the future. If you are in search of an attorney, do yourself a favor and have the law offices of Smith & White represent you. Mike D.
I contacted James after my charge for reckless endangerment, and right from the start he was informative and reassuring. James worked hard to get me the best possible outcome, and was always very quick to return a call or text. He was straightforward and honest with me about my case, explaining both the good and the bad in a way that was reassuring without being misleading. Overall, I highly recommend Smith and White to anyone who is looking for the most professional representation in their legal matters. Matthew B.
Attorney James White was a beacon of hope for me at a time when my options appeared limited and the likeness of a satisfactory resolution seemed close to nothing. Not only was he able to defend me in a specific sticky situation in which I hired him for, I felt as though he also went above and beyond in efforts to provide me with the best outcome possible. His calm and professional demeanor offered such a great assurance to myself and those I care about around me. I am completely grateful for his service and I most definitely recommend Mr. White. Leyasha J.
Derek Smith guided us through a troubling legal situation with absolute professionalism. This was my first experience with a trial situation and Mr. Smith was able to address all of my questions and concerns in a way that helped address some of the fear I had regarding the legal system. Mr. Smith was highly effective during the trial and the result ended up in our favor. Legal troubles are scary and it was great knowing we had a fantastic legal team on our side to help navigate the somewhat confusing situation. My wife and I emphatically recommend this law firm. Steve B.
Mr. Smith was wonderful to work with. He was professional, knowledgeable and effective!! He takes the time to listen, which is amazing and can be a hard quality to find! He is informative and straight forward, which I truly appreciate! He was quite helpful on another matter that I asked his advise on. Thank you!!! Melika