Is a DUI Considered a Felony in Washington State?

A DUI offense may be categorized as either felony or misdemeanor, depending upon the offender’s record. In any event, the consequences are stiff, and it’s important to retain a lawyer to help defend against the charges and fight to reduce the penalties or possibly dismiss charges depending on the circumstances.

DUIs: Felony vs. Misdemeanor

The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) explains that DUIs will be considered gross misdemeanors unless one of the following applies:

  • the person has four or more offenses in the last ten years; or
  • the person has been convicted of vehicular homicide or assault while under the influence.

If the above conditions apply, the charge is upgraded from a gross misdemeanor to a class C felony.

Penalties Vary According to Classification

If your charge is labeled as a DUI gross misdemeanor, maximum penalties include up to 364 days in jail and $5,000 in fines. The minimum penalties that apply for DUI misdemeanors are dependent upon how high the driver’s blood alcohol content was and the number of prior offenses.

Felony charges, on the other hand, are much harsher. As per RCW chapter 9.94A, a class C felony conviction is punishable by up to:

  • five years imprisonment; and
  • $10,000 in fines.

Other Consequences of DUI Convictions

In addition to those above, there are other penalties and natural consequences that a driver will face if convicted of a DUI.

For both misdemeanor and felony DUIs, drivers will also have to face:

  • probation;
  • driver’s licenses suspension;
  • an order to use an ignition interlock device;  and
  • other fines and fees for “services” including Electric Home Monitoring and the installation and maintenance fees for the interlock device.

The court ordered penalties are stiff, but there are also wide-ranging ramifications of a DUI conviction. A DUI will stay on your record permanently. It could impact your job and future career prospects and tarnish your reputation. It can be embarrassing to blow into an ignition interlock device to start the vehicle.

And because a DUI conviction is so emotionally and financially draining, your relationships could begin to feel the strain, as well. Not to mention, you might experience some degree of financial burden with all the fines and penalties.

Charged with a DUI? Consult an Attorney in Tacoma

Regardless of whether your charges are a misdemeanor or felony, obtain legal counsel straight away after an arrest. A lawyer will comb through your case and advise regarding whether you may get the charges dismissed or reduced. Your attorney will explain what you’re up against, develop a strategy, and then fight to have your charges dismissed or your penalties reduced.

For legal defense in Tacoma, call our team at the Daryl Graves Law. Contact us today for a consultation by calling 253-383-7777.

Free Consultation

Daryl Graves Law, PLLC practices primarily in the areas of criminal defense law and personal injury. If you are seeking representation in one of these, or simply have a question that you would like to ask an attorney, feel free to call Daryl Graves Law, PLLC at 253-383-7777 or complete the form below.

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