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RCW 46.61.5055 - DUI Penalties

1. Definition and Elements of the Statute

RCW 46.61.5055 provides guidance for sentencing for a drunk driving conviction, based on whether there are prior offenses. If you are convicted of a DUI, and you have no prior offenses within the last seven years, the sentence that you face depends on your blood alcohol concentration. If your blood alcohol concentration was less than 0.15, or there is no test result that demonstrates your blood alcohol concentration, you can be sentenced to imprisonment for 1-364 days. The first 24 hours cannot be suspended unless a judge determines that it would create a substantial risk to your mental or physical well-being and provides the reason for the suspension and underlying facts that support it. Instead of the mandatory minimum sentence, the court could order you to undergo at least 90 days in an around-the-clock sobriety program or 15 days of electronic home monitoring and fine you $350- $5,000. Also, five years of probation is the standard for any DUI conviction.

If your blood alcohol concentration was 0.15 or greater, or you refused to take a test so that there is no test result that demonstrates your alcohol concentration, you will face imprisonment for 2-364 days. The court is not allowed to suspend the first 48 hours of the imprisonment unless it finds that imposing the sentence would substantially risk your physical or mental well-being. Alternatively, the court could order a 120-day period of around-the-clock sobriety program monitoring or 30 days of electronic home monitoring. You could face fines of $500-$5,000. The five years of probation remains the same.

2. Examples

It can be difficult to know how inebriated you were. Two people with different genders, weights, and medical conditions might drink the same number of drinks, and only one might be intoxicated by them. However, it is important to be cautious. If your blood alcohol concentration was .08, the court could sentence you to a full 364 days in jail.

3. Related Offenses

In addition to facing DUI charges, you will face a license suspension if you refused to take a chemical test or had a result over the legal limit. If you were driving under the influence with a minor under the age of 16 in the vehicle, you could face child endangerment charges under Chapter 9A.42 of the Revised Code and various other sections.

4. Defenses

You should not assume that the penalties imposed under RCW 46.61.5055 are inevitable simply because you have been charged. We may be able to challenge the evidence against you if it was obtained in violation of your constitutional rights. Or we may be able to challenge the validity of the lab work if appropriate procedures were not followed.

5. Penalties

If you have a prior offense, you will face harsher penalties. For instance, if you have a prior offense within the last seven years, and your blood alcohol concentration was less than 0.15, or there is no test result for reasons other than your refusal, you will face imprisonment of 30-364 days and 60 days of electronic home monitoring. Alternatively, you could face four days in jail and 180 days of electronic home monitoring or 120 days of sobriety program monitoring. You may also face $500-$5,000 in fines. On the other hand, if your blood alcohol concentration was a minimum of 0.15, and there is no test result because you refused to take a test, you will face 45-364 days of imprisonment and 90 days of electronic home monitoring. Instead of the mandatory minimum sentence, the court could sentence you to six days in jail and either 120 days of around-the-clock sobriety program monitoring or six months of electronic home monitoring. You can face $750-$5,000 in fines.

You could face harsher sentences if you have two or more prior crimes in seven years or if you have three or more prior crimes in 10 years. If the court finds that you had a minor passenger under age 16 in the car, the court can order enhanced penalties that include the installation of an ignition interlock device for an added six months. Whether you face penalties beyond that for driving with a minor passenger depends on whether you have priors. Other factors that may be weighed include whether you caused an injury to people or property, whether there were passengers at the time, whether you were speeding, and whether you were driving opposite to traffic’s normal flow.

6. Criminal Defense for DUI Cases

At Smith & White, PLLC, our Tacoma DUI lawyers may be able to fight charges brought against you under RCW 46.61.5055. Our phones are answered 24/7. We give free legal advice so that you can consider your path forward. Complete our online form or call us at (253) 203-1645. We offer financing for legal representation.

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