DUI Statute of Limitations in Washington State (2023)

If you have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in the state of Washington, you may have questions. Particularly about the possibility of having your case dismissed or your record expunged. Washington has a statute of limitations concerning DUI cases that is also useful to understand. 

You will want to contact a Washington state DUI attorney and discuss the specifics of your case with Veitch Ault Defense Attorneys at Law.  They have the knowledge to plan a strategy to help you achieve the best possible resolution to your DUI case. 

How Long Can a DUI Case Stay Open? 

In Washington, a DUI case can stay open for two years. Having a statute of limitations protects the accused from having unfair charges brought against them. Would-be defendants must be charged with a DUI within two years of the date of the arrest. 

Being arrested for a DUI is stressful, and waiting two entire years to know if you will be charged with the crime adds to that stress. While the anxiety of waiting is very real, the statute of limitations may also work in your favor.

Can a DUI Case go Away? 

Indeed it can. If the state does not proceed with charging you with driving under the influence within two years, they are not allowed to revisit the case later and press charges. While waiting for two years can be stressful, it may also benefit you if the state does not get around to filing charges. 

Most often, charges are filed between a week and six weeks after a DUI arrest. If that does not happen, the defendant may feel they are off the hook for the charge. But this is not the case. The prosecutor has two years to file charges. 

Erosion of Evidence

Waiting so long to press charges may be harder to prosecute or prove a DUI case. Memories of the incident fade, so witness testimony is easier to impeach. Sometimes, the evidence is lost or degraded. 

If you are arrested for a DUI, it is imperative that you seek a Washington DUI lawyer to help with the process from the very beginning. Documenting the details of the arrest and securing testimony and evidence in advance of the charges can help your case. While the case is fresh in your mind, speak to your attorney. 

Can My DUI be Expunged? 

If you have been charged with a Washington state DUI, you may be hopeful that you can have your record expunged. Even after a sentence is served in Washington, there is no provision for having it expunged from your record. Some misdemeanors can be removed, but DUIs remain there. 

Since expungement is not an option, it is essential that you seek the advice of a Washington DUI lawyer about how to plead if you are charged with a DUI. This could, in turn, determine your sentence if found guilty. 

What Penalties do I Face if Convicted of a Washington DUI?

Washington DUI penalties vary. The factors that are taken into account are prior convictions, how close together the charges took place, if children were involved, blood alcohol content (BAC), THC blood concentration, and whether the defendant was operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or marijuana.

Penalties for a First Offense DUI Without Priors

Sentencing is determined by Washington’s statute, for the most part. But, depending on the circumstances of the charge, the court has some leeway in deciding the exact sentence. Listed below are the penalties: 

  • A fine of $350 to $5,000
  • A jail sentence of one to 364 days

There are other options for the mandatory day in jail. If convicted, the offender can serve 15 days on house arrest or 90 days in an inpatient sobriety program. 

If the driver had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15% or greater or they refused to take the breathalyzer test, they will face further fines. In Washington, there is an implied consent law. This means that by driving in the state, you are consenting to a breathalyzer if law enforcement requests it of you. For these offenses, the following punishments are in place:

  • Fines of $500 to $5000
  • Jail sentence of two to 364 days

In lieu of jail time, the driver can serve 30 days on house arrest or 120 days in an around-the-clock sobriety program.

Penalties Associated With a 2nd DUI

A second DUI becomes a more serious situation in terms of penalties. If the offender has been charged with one DUI within the last seven years, the fines and sentences are as follows: 

  • Fines of $500 to $5,000 
  • A jail sentence of 30 to 364 days

To avoid the full jail sentence, the judge may allow the option of four days in jail and 180 days of house arrest. Or the option of a 24/7 sobriety program for 120 days. 

If the driver refuses chemical alcohol testing or has a BAC of 0.15% or higher faces the following penalties: 

  • Fines of $750 to $5,000
  • Jail time lasting between 45 and 364 days

The court has the authority to offer six days in jail followed by six months on house arrest of 120 days in an inpatient sobriety program. 

As of the second DUI, the court may order the seizure and sale of the driver’s vehicle. 

Penalties for a 3rd DUI in Washington state

A third DUI will be looked upon far less leniently. The penalties are as follows for an offender who has been convicted of two prior DUIs within the past seven years: 

  • Fines of $1,000 to $5,000
  • Jail sentence of between 90 and 364 days
  • Mandatory 24/7 sobriety program for six months

Instead of sobriety monitoring, the judge may add eight more days in jail. 

Third-time offenders who refuse to take the breathalyzer or have a BAC of 0.15% or more will face the following additional penalties:

  • Fines of $1,500 to $10,000
  • Jail sentence of between 120 and 364 days
  • Mandatory around-the-clock sobriety program for six months
  • Sentence of house arrest for 150 days

By the time offenders are facing a third DUI, the penalties have become much harsher. 

Ignition Interlock Devices in Washington 

Upon conviction for a DUI in Washington, all offenders are required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) throughout their prescribed probationary period. Drivers with an IID can apply for restricted licenses that allow them to operate their vehicle during the suspension period. This allows the driver to maintain their job and other important tasks that a car is necessary to complete.

If You Have Been Arrested for DUI? Call King County DUI Attorney Rob Ault today!

Facing the possibility of a driving under the influence charge can be an intimidating process. But, being proactive long before the statute of limitations runs out can give you peace of mind that your case can be resolved in a way that is most beneficial to you. The Washington DUI attorneys at Veitch Ault & Associates have over 40 years of experience fighting DUIs and are ready to fight yours too. Contact us today for help. 


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