Washington Drunk Driving Laws

When is a Driver Considered to be Legally Drunk in Washington?

  • Non-commercial drivers age 21+ are considered legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .08 or more.
  • Drivers of commercial vehicles are legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .04 percent or greater. In Washington, school bus drivers are commercial drivers.
  • Drivers under 21 are legally drunk when there is any detectable amount of alcohol in their system.

Penalties for Drunk Driving in Washington

  • A first-time offender whose BAC was less than .15 faces up to one year in prison and a fine of $350 to $5,000. If the offender’s BAC was .15 or more, the fine is between $500 and $5,000.
  • A person who commits a second DUI within seven years of the first offense and whose BAC was less than .15 faces up to one year in prison and 60 days of electronic home monitoring. The fine is $500 to $5,000. If, however, the offender’s BAC was .15 or more, the electronic monitoring period is up to 90 days and the fine is between $750 and $5,000.
  • A person who commits a third or fourth DUI within seven years and whose BAC was less than .15 faces 90 days to one year in prison and 120 days of electronic home monitoring. The fine is between $1,000 and $5,000. If, however, the offender had a BAC of .15 or more, the prison term is 120 days to one year and 150 days of electronic home monitoring. The fine is between $1,500 and $5,000.
  • A person who commits a fifth DUI within 10 years faces up to eight years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Driver’s License Suspension/Revocation Periods

If the offender’s BAC was less than .15, the following suspension/revocation periods apply:

  • For a first offense, the suspension period is 90 days.
  • For a second offense within seven years, the offender’s driver’s license will be revoked for two years.
  • For a third or subsequent offense within seven years, the offender’s driver’s license will be revoked for three years.

If the offender’s BAC was .15 or more, the following revocation periods apply:

  • For a first offense, the revocation period is one year.
  • For a second offense within seven years, the revocation period is 900 days.
  • Where there have been two or more prior offenses within seven years, the revocation period is four years.

Enhanced Penalty for Drunk Driving While a Child Under 16 is in the Vehicle

If a person is convicted of DUI while a passenger 16 or under was in the vehicle, the sentencing judge is required to order the offender to use an ignition interlock device. In cases where installation of an ignition interlock device was not mandatory under Washington law, the judge must order use of the device for at least 60 days following restoration of the offender's driving privileges. In cases where installation of the device was mandatory, the judge must order use of the device for an additional 60 days.

Ignition Interlock

If a person is convicted of DUI, a judge may order use of an ignition interlock device. If a person is convicted of DUI, the Department of Licensing of the State of Washington, however, will require that the offender to drive only a vehicle that is equipped with an ignition interlock device for the following time periods:

  • For a person who has not previously been restricted to use an ignition interlock device, a period of one year.
  • For a person who has previously been restricted to use an ignition interlock device by a judge, a period of five years.
  • For a person who has previously been restricted by the Department of Licensing, a period of 10 years.

Commercial Drivers

In addition to other penalties that may apply under Washington’s DUI laws, a commercial driver who commits a first DUI while driving any vehicle will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for at least one year. If, however, the driver was operating a commercial vehicle and transporting hazardous materials at the time, the disqualification period is three years. A commercial driver who commits a second DUI while driving any vehicle will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for life, which may or may not be reduced to a period of not less than 10 years.

Drivers Under 21

A person under 21 commits underage DUI if he or she drives with a BAC of .02 but less than .08. Underage DUI offenders face up to 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. Depending on the circumstances of the offense and the minor’s age at the time, the driver’s license suspension period could be until the minor turns 21.

Dram Shop

Washington State does not have a Dram Shop Act. It may be possible, however, for an injured person to bring a negligence action against a licensed drinking establishment if the person’s injury resulted from the tavern’s negligent sale and service of alcohol to a minor or to a visibly intoxicated person. While intoxicated minors may bring a claim against the tavern, intoxicated adults may not.

Criminal Liability for Selling or Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor

It is a crime to sell or furnish alcohol to a person under 21. Violators face up to 365 days in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. This law, however, does not apply to parents who permit their underage child to drink in their presence, so long as the consumption is not at a licensed drinking establishment.

Need more information on state laws? Learn more about the laws where you live.

Note: Our attorneys are licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, and Virginia. This information is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia, although if you are injured in an accident, we have relationships with other personal injury attorneys and lawyers throughout the United States.

Free Case Review
First Name
Phone
Email
Tell us about your case: