Gross Misdemeanor DUI Charges in Seattle
In Washington, most DUI offenses are charged as gross misdemeanors. Some offenders, however, can face felony charges. The severity of the charges will dictate how steep the potential penalties are for a conviction. In order to avoid a DUI conviction, call The Law Offices of Steve Karimi today.
The majority of DUI suspects in Seattle will be charged with gross misdemeanors. These offenses include crimes that involve operating or being in physical control of a vehicle in any of the following circumstances:
- With a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more
- With a THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) concentration of 0.05 or more
- While physically impaired by drugs (including illegal, prescription and over-the-counter drugs), alcohol or a combination of drugs and alcohol
The penalties for gross misdemeanor DUI crimes vary depending on several aspects including number of previous convictions and BAC level. Under RCW 46.61.5055, gross misdemeanor offenses are punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of $350 to $5,000 and 90 days of license suspension for a first time offender with a low BAC (under .15). First time offenders with high BACs (.15 or more) can face up to one year in jail, a fine of $500 to $5,000 and 1 year of license suspension.
Any driver with one prior DUI conviction in the past 7 years will face up to one year in jail, a fine of $500 to $5,000 and 2 years of license suspension for a low BAC offense. A second time offender with a high BAC will face up to one year in jail, a fine of $750 to $5,000 and 900 days of license suspension. Those with 2 or more prior convictions can be sentenced to the same penalties with a minimum fine of $1,000 and 3-4 years of license suspension. Additionally, repeat offenders may be sentenced to house arrest, sobriety monitoring and substance abuse evaluation and treatment.
Washington Felony DUI Laws
Any type of DUI arrest should be taken seriously. In Washington, even a first time offender can face jail time, steep fines and several months of license suspension. Most DUI offenses are charged as misdemeanors, but in some cases a driver could face felony charges. Felonies are the most serious crimes and carry heavy punishments that can affect the rest of an offender's life. Penalties for DUI crimes increase when the offense is considered more severe. There are several factors that must be taken into account when charging a suspect with a DUI crime, a driver's DUI record as well as the circumstances of the offense will be looked at to determine how a person will be charged. A felony conviction is a very serious thing, if you or a loved one have been accused of felony DUI, call a Seattle DUI defense attorney right away.
In Washington, under RCW 46.61.502, a person can be charged with felony DUI if they are arrested for driving or in physical control of a vehicle while impaired and any of the following is true:
- They have previously been convicted of 4 or more DUI related offenses within the past 10 years
- They have previously been convicted of vehicular homicide, vehicular assault or a comparable offense in another state.
- They have previously been convicted of any other felony DUI crime
DUI offenses that result in accidents or injury to others can also result in felony DUI charges. These offenses are referred to as vehicular assault and vehicular homicide in Washington. Most felony DUI charges are Class C felonies in Washington and can result in the following penalties:
- Incarceration in a state correctional institution for up to 5 years OR
- A fine of up to $10,000 OR
- A combination of imprisonment and fine
In addition to these penalties, a felony conviction will be reported on an offender's criminal record for the rest of their lives unless the crime is expunged from their record. Jobs, schools and even banks will have access to this information and a felony conviction can lead to denial for jobs, school admissions and even bank loans and apartment leases.
Call a Seattle DUI Defense Lawyer
A DUI arrest should never be taken lightly. Do not assume that your clean driving record will let you avoid the penalties of your charge. If you have been arrested for DUI in Washington, make sure you understand the penalties you are facing. Even a first time offender with a clean driving record can be sentenced to jail time, fines, license suspension and more. The only way to avoid these penalties is to hire an experienced legal defense team. DUI defense lawyer Steve Karimi is a former prosecutor. Let him use his experience to help you build a strong defense and fight your charges. Call The Law Offices of Steve Karimi today to set up a free consultation.