It is easy to say you will never make the same mistake twice. It is far harder to truly avoid repeating your mistakes. After being convicted of a first-time DUI, or maybe even a second DUI, you may have promised yourself “never again.” Unfortunately, all it takes is one small slip up or a misunderstanding with an officer to find yourself back in court. Despite your best intentions and efforts, you could be facing multiple DUIs.
In the state of Washington, repeat DUI offenses are not taken lightly and while this situation may feel hopeless, there is no reason to give up and accept an unfair or harsh penalty. You should work with an experienced Tacoma DUI attorney to address your case as aggressively as possible. There may be a DUI defense that would result in your charges being dismissed or reduced. There may be a way to exonerate yourself in court or receive a minimum punishment upon conviction.
Do not give up. Contact The Law Offices of Morgan Fletcher Benfield, PLLC at (253) 733-2093 or online to schedule your free consultation.
When Washington Considers Previous DUI Offenses
Washington’s “look back period” is seven years, according to RCW 46.61.5055. This means that when you are arrested for a DUI, the court will look to see if you have previously been arrested for a DUI or related crime within the past seven years. This will largely influence the severity of your current charge and the possible penalties. Additionally, just because a previous arrest does not count toward your current DUI charge does not mean the prosecution or judge will ignore it. A previous conviction for another offense may not make your current arrest a second or subsequent DUI, but it can be considered during sentencing.
Consequences of Multiple DUIs
The potential penalties you face for a second or subsequent DUI depends on your criminal history, your BAC at the time of the current offense, and whether you refused a chemical test upon your arrest.
- Second DUI Below .15: You face a minimum of 30 consecutive days and up to 364 days in jail, 60 days of electronic home monitoring (EHM), Five years of probation, a fine between $1,000 and $5,000, a license suspension for two years, and an ignition interlock device for between one and five years.
- Second DUI Above .15 or you refused a chemical test: You will be punished with between 45 and 364 days in jail, 90 days EHM, five years of probation, and a fine between $1,400 and $5,000. For a high BAC, your license will be suspended for 900 days. If you refused to submit to a chemical test, your license suspension is at least three years long. You must use an ignition interlock device for at least one year and possibly up to five years.
- Third DUI Below .15: This offense is punishable by between 90 and 364 days in jail, 120 days EHM, five years of probation, a fine between $1,800 and $5,000, a three-year license suspension, and up to 10 years of an ignition interlock device.
- Third DUI Above .15 or you refused a chemical test: You face between 120 and 364 days in jail, 150 days EHM, five years of probation, a fine between $2,600 and $5,000, a four-year license suspension, and up to 10 years of an ignition interlock device.
- Fourth DUI within 10 years: This is a felony offense, punishable by between 13 to 17 months in prison. You will also be subjected to fines, probation, license suspension, and an ignition interlock device.
Additional Consequences of a DUI
Being convicted of one or more DUIs leads to a variety of penalties and secondary consequences:
- Alcohol Evaluation and Treatment: If you are convicted of a DUI in Washington, you will be required to undergo an alcohol evaluation. If the evaluation indicates a substance abuse issue, you will be required to complete treatment. Whether or not your complete required treatment impacts whether you can have your driver’s license reinstated after your suspension.
- Victim Impact Panel: You must go through a victim’s impact panel. This process is intended to make you confront the actual or potential consequences of drunk driving. You must listen to individuals whose lives have been changed by other people driving impaired by drugs or alcohol, including individuals who have been injured or lost family members.
- Educational and Professional Challenges: Multiple DUIs on your record will impact your current and future employment. You are unlikely to be able to obtain a position that requires you to drive for work. You could have a tough time receiving private scholarships, grants, and loans for college. You may lose a current professional license or face hurdles in obtaining one.
- Travel Restrictions: Living in Washington, you may take traveling to Canada for granted. However, one or more DUI convictions could have you banned from entering Canada. You may have to specifically ask for permission to enter the country.
- Immigration Issues: If you are not a U.S. citizen, a DUI conviction could impact your ability to live and work here. It could lead to a denial of a visa renewal, a denial of permanent residency, or ineligibility for naturalization. If you are undocumented, you could be deported.
Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO)
You can be labeled an HTO if, within five years, you have three or more convictions of:
- Driving or being in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Vehicular assault
- Vehicular homicide
- Driving on a suspended or revoked license
- Failure to stop at the scene of an accident that resulted in injury or death
- Reckless driving
- Attempting to elude the police
You can also be labeled an HTO if you amass a combination of 20 individual convictions and/or moving violations.
As an HTO, your license could be revoked for up to seven years.
Defending Against a Subsequent DUI
Defending against a second or subsequent DUI can be challenging, particularly because prosecutors take a harsh view on DUI re-offenders. Most likely, the prosecutor will seek the harshest penalties possible in your case. However, there are always ways to defend yourself. When facing a DUI, your lawyer may challenge:
- The initial traffic stop
- The legality of a search or seizure
- The police officer’s initial observations
- The results or validity of field sobriety tests
- The results of a breath, blood, or urine test
- The validity of the breath, blood, or urine test
Contact a Lawyer Immediately
Once you have been charged with a second, third, or additional DUI, do not wait to call a lawyer. You need an experienced and aggressive attorney on your side as soon as possible. At The Law Offices of Morgan Fletcher Benfield, PLLC, we are here protect your rights throughout the criminal court process, to build you the strongest defense available in your case, and to fight for the best possible outcome.
To discuss your rights and options in regard to multiple DUIs, call (253) 733-2093 and schedule a consultation.