How Likely is Jail Time for Your First DUI in Washington State?

When you are charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Washington state, you are naturally anxious about the consequences if you are convicted. In this article, we will get into how a first-offense DUI conviction might look. Of course, call your Washington State DUI defense attorney to discuss the specifics of your case. 

Law Enforcement’s Best Guess

You can be arrested for a DUI because you fail a field sobriety test. Failing means you can be stopped because the officer is suspicious and then charged for doing poorly on the test the law enforcement officer chooses to administer once pulled over. The tests used are as follows:

  • Balance tests
  • Coordination tests
  • Mental agility tests
  • Eye tests

Though you can legally decline a sobriety test, it will not stop your impending arrest, and your refusal could be used against you in court. Refusal to take blood tests will be penalized by having your driver’s license suspended for an entire year. 

How Much is Bail for a DUI in Washington?

If you are arrested in Washington for a DUI, your next step will probably be posting bail. The judge will review your case and decide whether they will set bail. Washington state bail can be anywhere from nothing to $10,000. 

Not everyone can come up with the money it takes to make bail on short notice, so there are bail bond companies who may be able to arrange bail. These companies will provide bail in exchange for a percentage of the bail amount.

What is the Minimum Penalty for DUI in Washington State? 

To crack down on impaired driving in Washington state, their minimum penalties, even for first-time offenders, are stringent. Driving under the influence charges begins as gross misdemeanors for the first offense, with the condition that no one was injured. Listed below are the penalties that are outlined by Washington state law:

  • $866-$5,000 and from one to 364 days in jail if the motorist’s BAC was under 0.15%
  • $1121-$5,000 and jail time from 2 to 364 days if the driver had a BAC of 0.15% or higher
  • Felony DUI if someone is killed or injured in the accident. Other charges, such as vehicular assault, may apply.

Any amount of jail time can be catastrophic to your future. It can affect your career choices, financial stability, family, and mental and emotional health. A DUI lawyer in Washington state can help you navigate the process so that your damages are minimized. 

What Happens if You are Convicted of a DUI in Washington State?

Along with the jail sentence and mandatory fines, a DUI in Washington state can become quite involved.  If you are served with a citation at the time of your arrest, it is mandatory that the driver appears in court before a judicial officer within one day. If the defendant was not charged with a citation at the time of the arrest, they have 14 days before being required to appear in court.

Suspended License

After a DUI conviction, your driver’s license will be suspended without the help of an experienced Washington state DUI attorney who will contest the suspension. You must request a hearing within 20 days of the arrest. To keep your license, the hearing examiner must side with you. 

If you fail to ask for a hearing or the hearing examiner rules against you, your license will be taken away for 90 days and two years. Prior offenses will be considered, as will the event’s seriousness.

The hearing examiner may rule in your favor. This does not let you off the hook for a possible DUI conviction. A DUI conviction will still see you with a suspended driver’s license. The suspension will be enforced for one year when a breathalyzer or blood test is declined. 

Such suspensions start 45 days after the Washington State Department of licensing is notified of the driver’s conviction. It can be complicated to get your license back, as prior offenses are considered. To ensure you have done all you can to retain your license, it is imperative that you call an experienced DUI attorney in Washington state. 

Temporary License

Sometimes, it is a necessity that you be allowed to drive. You could be eligible for a provisional license even if your driver’s license is suspended. A temporary license will allow you to drive to a limited number of places, such as the following: 

  • Work
  • Home
  • School
  • Healthcare facilities
  • Court-ordered counseling or substance abuse treatment programs
  • Community service programs 

To qualify for a temporary license, you must install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle. The driver will have to pass a breath test before his car starts. 

Ignition Interlock Devices (IID)

State and local courts often add other sanctions to a DUI conviction. Using an IID can, in some cases, keep you from losing your license. If the motorist had a minor under 16 years old in their vehicle when the DUI occurred, the IID requirement would be extended an additional 60 days.

Electronic Home Detention (EHD)

A judge may sentence an impaired driver to house arrest. This is sometimes called electronic jail. The sentence will be served at home using an ankle monitor. This method uses a computerized device attached to the driver’s telephone and an ankle bracelet to monitor movement. House arrest is only a possibility for a first-time offense. 

If approved, an EHD is expensive, and the convicted party incurs the cost of the device. To avoid the compounding expenses of a DUI, you should contact a Washington DUI criminal defense Lawyer.


If the judge deems the driver a low-risk offender rather than a jail sentence, they may grant probation. Some of the stipulations required to be eligible for probation are that the driver is gainfully employed and that the defendant has a limited criminal history. 

The court will assign a probation officer with whom the driver will be in regular contact. There are costs associated with probation as well. Fees generally range from $50 to $75 a month.

Drug and Alcohol Counseling and Treatment Programs

Judges sometimes require convicted offenders to complete a drug or alcohol treatment program successfully. The offender must complete the assigned program or face more legal consequences. These must be paid for by the person attending the program. 

Deferred Prosecution

An experienced DUI lawyer may petition the court to place the case on a deferred prosecution as an alternative to jail time and fines. This program benefits people who have alcohol and drug problems with the option of treatment without all of the consequences of their crime. 

The convicted party will not be charged with a crime, so no jail sentence or fines are required. After completing a two-year treatment program, the DUI charge is discharged from the public record. During this time, the convicted must not violate the court order granting the deferred prosecution. 

Eligibility depends on several requirements, which are listed below:

  • The court must find that imposing a mandatory minimum sentence would put the person being prosecuted at significant risk, mentally or physically. Those defendants who cannot afford the fines and costs associated with the program may have their costs reduced. 
  • A diagnosis of alcohol or drug dependence or a mental health issue is required. 
  • Enrollment in a drug, alcohol, or mental health counseling and treatment program is mandated, and the defendant must comply with all prescribed treatment recommendations.

Speak to an experienced Washington state King County DUI defense lawyer to help you minimize the impact of a first-offense DUI. A mistake should not define your life. We are DUI Defense Attorneys based in Bellevue and Lynnwood. Reach out today for a free consultation, where we will investigate your case and examine your options. 


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