Washington state is serious about making its roads safer. One way they do that is by cracking down on drunk and impaired drivers by implementing stiffer penalties. A second offense driving under the influence (DUI) charge carries much heftier penalties than a first charge.
Is Jail Time Mandatory for Your 2nd DUI in Washington?
If you have been charged with a DUI and have had a prior driving under the influence conviction, your primary concern is whether or not you will face jail time. The possibility is certainly there but is dependent on one main factor. When was your prior conviction?
If your conviction were seven years before the current one, your charge would be treated as a first-offense DUI. Convictions within seven years of a first offense will require a mandatory jail sentence.
What Happens After Your Second DUI?
Following your second DUI arrest, you must appear in court for an arraignment. Often, the court will require you to submit to wearing a secure continuous remote alcohol monitor (SCRAM) or a TAD device. These devices are worn around the ankle and will monitor and report alcohol intake.
Wearing these monitoring devices allows the offender to avoid jail and continue working. Most of the time, pants and socks conceal that the offender is even wearing the device. Most people would prefer proving that they are abstaining from alcohol with this method rather than the round-the-clock surveillance that a jail would provide.
What is the Minimum Punishment for a Second DUI?
The alternative with the minimum punishment for a second offense DUI is deferred prosecution. The main drawback is that it will take longer to complete. But, the result is typically worth the additional time.
The program has four phases that must be taken seriously for the deferment program to work. If these steps are not followed, the offender could face tough penalties.
Phase 1 Includes Intensive Outpatient Treatment
When participating in the deferred prosecution program, an intensive alcohol treatment program is mandatory. The offender must attend 72 hours of treatment for alcohol addiction within twelve weeks of the court’s decision.
This is typically completed by joining a group treatment program three times a week for eight weeks. Each meeting lasts for three hours. There is also the possibility of attending four meetings, lasting two hours each, for nine weeks.
Phase II Requires Outpatient Treatment
The second phase of the program, following the intensive outpatient treatment in phase I, requires the driver to attend one weekly group therapy session for the next 26 weeks. Six months of weekly meetings are the prescribed outpatient treatment.
Phase III Mandatory Monthly Monitoring
Upon completing the first two phases, monitoring is reduced to a monthly group or individual counseling session for the remainder of the two-year program. This maintenance treatment phase requires monthly attendance.
Phase IV and What Happens After Completing the Two Years of Mandatory Treatment
While the required treatment program is completed during two years, the court usually extends its overview for up to five years. The court may require the driver to attend AA meetings to avoid a relapse.
A program such as the deferred prosecution program requires compliance. Still, it is an excellent opportunity to avoid jail time so that the offender may keep their job, continue to support themself and their family, and can work on living a sober, responsible life. The further a person is into a program of this length, the less tempting it is to get in trouble because all of their hard work will have been in vain.
Is a Second DUI a Felony in Washington?
Second DUI offenses in Washington are not automatically considered felonies. Whether a DUI is elevated to a felony depends on several factors. These are as follows:
- Criminal history: If you have been convicted of 4 or more DUIs within ten years, will upgrade your charge to a felony.
- Vehicular assault: Being charged with injuring someone due to reckless, impaired driving constitutes vehicular assault, which is a felony.
- Vehicular homicide: This felony charge occurs when the driver’s intoxicated driving causes the death of another person.
- Comparable out-of-state offenses: DUI and similar charges outside Washington state will be considered. These will typically translate to a felony charge.
Though it may be the driver’s first DUI, if someone is injured, the result may be felony DUI charges. In Washington, this is a Class C felony. Felony DUIs carry a minimum sentence of six to 12 months to five years in jail or a steep $10,000 fine. Or any combination of those punishments.
DUI charges create dreadful obstacles for the driver. Felony charges can impede career opportunities, make it more difficult to secure housing, and halt education because of the added difficulty in securing student loans.
Level of Intoxication
Alcohol tolerance varies wildly from person to person. But, the BAC for a DUI charge does not. In Washington, if a chemical test confirms that a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% or higher, it is considered enough to move forward with a DUI charge.
However, this result must come within two hours of the traffic stop. The burden of proof is on law enforcement to prove that the driver was operating a vehicle at that time and that they were tested within the prescribed period.
Your Washington DUI attorney will review the evidence and will construct the best strategy to resolve your charge in the best way possible for you.
Contact an expert DUI Attorney in King County, WA Today
Driving under the influence is a severe offense in Washington state. But mistakes happen, and with such stringent laws, you may find yourself facing a DUI charge. We will work hard to ensure that your charge is resolved in a way that most benefits you. Through the deferred prosecution program or having your charges reduced, we will do our best to keep your jail time to a minimum and to lessen your fines as much as possible.
The DUI attorneys in Washington with Veitch Ault Defense Attorneys at Law have successfully defended over 1,000 DUI cases, and we are ready to defend you next. Contact us so we can stand beside you, fighting for you, from the arraignment phase until we have reached a successful solution.