What are the potential DUI penalties in Washington?

Washington State takes DUIs seriously, whether it’s a first, second, or third offense. If you are facing DUI charges or know someone who is awaiting conviction, it helps to know what penalties you could be facing. That way, you know how to plan.

Today, we will provide some general information about DUI penalties for first offenders and beyond so that you can prepare yourself for what is to come. (As always, if you are facing a DUI charge, remember: the right lawyer can help you fight it and keep your penalties as low as possible.)

What are the potential DUI penalties in Washington?

DUI sentencing results in different penalties, based on your priors and your state. In all situations in Washington State, you will be required to pay fines and spend time behind bars (at least one day).

However, the total amount of time behind bars can change based on your blood alcohol content (BAC) and whether you went through testing. You may also have the option to forgo jail time in some situations. An experienced DUI lawyer is critical to help get you through this process with minimal penalties.

Let’s explore the DUI penalties in greater detail so that you know what to expect and can start getting arrangements in order:

First Offense

The penalties for a first DUI are $350 to $5,000 in fines, along with one to 364 days of incarceration. This applies as long as you have no prior convictions within seven years of your DUI. In some counties in Washington, there are some alternative penalties, like house arrest and attending a sobriety program that can keep you out of jail. Talk to your DUI attorney to see if this is an option for you.

If your BAC levels are at or above .15 percent, and you did not agree to a breathalyzer, you could be looking at anywhere from two to 364 days of incarceration and between $500 to $5,000 in fines. In some counties, house arrest or a sobriety program may be available as alternatives to incarceration.

Second Offense

If this is your second DUI in seven years, you could be relieved of your vehicle. You will also be required to pay $500 to $5,000 in fines and spend 30 to 364 days behind bars. In some situations and counties, a reduced time in jail may be available if coupled with house arrest or sobriety program attendance. Talk to your DUI attorney to see if these are options for you.

Refusing to have your blood alcohol content tested or having a .15 percent or greater BAC can result in $750 to $5,000 in fines. You may also need to undergo 45 to 364 days of jail time. The other option is six days of jail time and six months on house arrest or in some counties, a sobriety program.

Third Offense

If this is your third DUI in seven years, plan to pay $1,000 to $5,000 in fines, face anywhere from 90 to 364 days behind bars, and in some counties, spend six months going through the sobriety program. If you would rather not do sobriety monitoring, the court may elect to keep you behind bars for eight additional days.

Denying the chemical test or having a BAC that is at or above .15 percent will result in $1,500 to $10,000 in fines owed. You will also be subject to 120 to 364 days of incarceration, six months in a sobriety program, and a full 150 days on house arrest.

DUIs Involving Child Passengers

Your DUI penalties will increase if you had a child below age 16 in the car. The DUI charges for a first offense involving a child passenger will add 24 more hours of jail time and anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 in fines.

A second DUI with a child involved will require five more days behind bars and $2,000 to $5,000 in fines owed. Third DUIs with kids involved will lead to 10 more days of incarceration and $3,000 to $5,000 in fines, in addition to the standard penalties for a third offender.


DUI penalties are severe, no matter how many prior convictions you have had. As expected, first-time offenders have the lowest penalties, whereas third-time offenders (or those with more than three DUIs) have the largest penalties.

Large fines are inevitable. However, jail time could be negotiable, depending on if you are willing to submit to testing and a sobriety program. Cooperating and working with a quality lawyer is key to keeping your penalties to a minimum and steering clear of jail. Need an experienced DUI lawyer who can help guide you through this difficult process and help you take the right steps? Clearwater Law Group’s attorneys offer clear guidance and a high-quality legal defense directed at DUIs. Schedule a free consultation with our law office today.