Most DUI’s in Washington State are misdemeanors and have a 7 year look back period to determine whether it’s a first offense. An old DUI or Physical Control arrest might count as a prior offense or “sentence enhancer” for a new DUI arrest if the old arrest occurred within 7 years from the date of the new arrest AND the old arrest eventually led to a conviction for DUI, Physical Control or a negotiated plea reduction to Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangerment or Negligent Driving in the First Degree. There are different timing and qualifying charges when analyzing felony DUI’s, but felony DUI’s are relatively rare.

Let’s say, for example, you were arrested for DUI for the first time in your life on June 15, 2016. That case was eventually resolved in court with a negotiated guilty plea to Reckless Driving. Then on December 15, 2021 – a little more than 5 years later – you were arrested for DUI again. The December 2021 arrest would be considered a “second DUI offense” since your old arrest is both within 7 years of the new arrest date AND resolved a qualifying conviction for Reckless Driving.

Knowing your offense level is important because Washington DUI law sets mandatory minimum penalties for DUI convictions based upon different offense levels. The judge is required to impose mandatory minimum penalties at sentencing if you’re actually convicted of a DUI or Physical Control. As the offense level increases then the minimum jail, fine, license suspension and ignition interlock penalties also increase. Even before you get to convictions, having a prior offense could lead to heightened conditions of release at your first court hearing.

If you or someone you care about are facing a DUI, then you should contact the attorneys at Cooney Law Offices today. We can analyze whether it’s a first offense DUI or higher offense level and explain the potential penalties. Cooney Law Offices. We can help!