Most DUI charges in Washington State are gross misdemeanors and not felonies. Gross misdemeanors have a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. Washington law makes Felony DUI a Class B crime carrying a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. These jail and financial penalties are in addition to license suspensions, probation, ignition interlock requirements and alcohol/drug treatment.

There are two ways a DUI arrest can be elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony. The first way a new DUI could be charged as a felony is if you have three or more prior offenses as defined by RCW 46.61.5055 within the prior ten years. A prior offense is a conviction for DUI or Physical Control of a Motor Vehicle under the Influence or a conviction for Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangerment or Negligent Driving First Degree that was amended down from an initial charge of DUI or Physical Control. A fourth DUI arrest within 10 years will likely be charged as a felony, but you still have to check the resolutions for the three priors to be sure.

The other way a new DUI arrest can lead to a felony is if you have ever in your lifetime had a prior conviction for an alcohol or drug related Vehicular Assault or Vehicular Homicide. There are a couple different types of Vehicular Assault and Vehicular Homicide charges, so having a conviction for one of these two charges will not necessarily lead to a new DUI being elevated to a felony. Prosecutors often assume old vehicular assault or vehicular homicide convictions are qualifying priors for elevating a new DUI to a felony. This is why it’s so important to consult with an experienced DUI attorney immediately.

If you or someone you care about is facing a DUI, then contact the attorneys at Cooney Law Offices today. Let their experience guide you to the best possible outcome. Cooney Law Offices. We can help!