Washington State DUI law sets mandatory minimum penalties for convictions. The law also sets sentencing enhancements, or higher penalties, when folks have other DUI’s within 7 years. To determine whether a misdemeanor DUI is a first, second or third offense you must look at the dates of other DUI arrests, dates of court resolutions and exactly how those other DUI’s ultimately resolved. We divided this analysis into two blog posts with this first post focusing on dates of arrests and resolutions. In another blog post we’ll review what types of DUI resolutions count as prior offenses.

The first step to figuring out whether a current misdemeanor DUI is a first or subsequent offense, you must begin by comparing the current date of arrest with any other DUI’s. Washington law uses the phrase “prior offense” for determining whether a separate DUI event acts as a sentence enhancer on a current DUI. Generally, a DUI arrest within the seven years before the current event will count as a prior offense sentence enhancer. For misdemeanor DUIs, there’s a seven year “wash out” meaning a DUI arrest older than seven years will “wash out” and no longer count as a sentence enhancer.

It may sound strange, but there are occasions where a DUI arrest that is AFTER the current DUI can count as prior offense. This occurs when the later DUI event is within seven years after the current one and results in a conviction BEFORE the earlier DUI event court case resolves. This might happen when someone is going through mental health crisis and gets accused of multiple DUI’s in within a short time. We also see this when folks don’t timely resolve an old DUI and later on they are charged and quickly resolve a new DUI. These later DUI’s counting as priors are rare, but they do happen.

Looking at arrest dates and conviction dates is only the first step to determining a current DUI’s offense level. You must also analyze how a DUI arrest resolved in court to know whether it will count as a prior offense sentence enhancer. The attorneys at Cooney Law Offices can let you know whether you’re facing a first offense DUI or higher and explain your options for fighting the case. Cooney Law Offices. We can help!