For someone with no previous criminal record, getting swept up in an impaired driving enforcement effort could be incredibly stressful and frightening. Getting arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) will typically mean spending a night in jail. It also means facing criminal charges that carry a range of potential consequences.

As someone unfamiliar with the inner workings of the criminal justice system, you may worry about your future and the impact these charges could have on your life. Once you understand how Washington State penalizes impaired driving offenses, you can make a better decision about how to manage your criminal defense strategy.

First-time DUI offenses can mean jail time and more

As with most forms of crime, the consequences associated with Washington DUI charges increase with the number of charges a person has on their record. A first-time offender will have the most lenient potential penalties, but that doesn’t mean that the consequences are negligible enough to warrant a guilty plea just to avoid going to court.

A first-time DUI conviction can result in up to 364 days in jail, fines of as much as $5,000 and loss of your license for 90 days, followed by another year of ignition interlock compliance requirements. For those who have exceptionally high blood alcohol content (BAC) levels at the time of their arrest, meaning .15% or higher, the license suspension could last as long as two years.

Additionally, up to five years of probation could result from a first-time offense. Second offenses will result in even more significant charges, which is one compelling reason why avoiding a first conviction is in your best interests.