When DUI means Prison, not Jail

On Friday November 2, 2012, a Yakima man was formerly charged and arraigned for allegedly committing his eighth DUI. The man has seven DUI convictions and two vehicular assault convictions. On this new DUI charge, the man is facing a class C felony and the possibility of doing eight years in prison if convicted of the DUI charge.

In response to public pressure, the Washington State Legislature passed Washington’s Felony DUI law in 2006. The Felony DUI law took effect in July 2007.

The Washington Felony DUI statute amended then existing Washington DUI and Physical Control statutes. DUI’s that would otherwise be gross misdemeanors are now felonies in two situations – both hinge upon the driver’s DUI and criminal traffic related history. If a person has four or more “prior offenses” within ten years of the most recent DUI, the Felony DUI statutes are implicated. It is also considered a Felony DUI if a person commits DUI and has ever been previously convicted of either an alcohol related Vehicular Assault or an alcohol related Vehicular Homicide.

As noted above, a Washington Felony DUI is a Class C felony with a seriousness level of 5. That means that if a person has an offender score of “0” at the time of the incident, his presumptive sentencing range would be 6-12 months in jail. Unfortunately, no one who is convicted of Felony DUI ever has an offender score of “0”. This is due to the fact that the prior offenses that are an element of the felony charge are also used to calculate the offender score. Prior DUI related offenses count as one (1) point in an offender’s score. Prior alcohol related vehicular assaults and vehicular homicides count as two (2) points in an offender’s score. Therefore, the lowest possible range for a person facing a Felony DUI under the first prong is 22-29 months in prison based on an offender score of four (one point for each “prior offense”). Under the second prong, the minimum range is 13-17 months in prison based upon an offender score of two.

In addition to prison time, a person also faces similar penalties and sanctions as he would with a basic DUI conviction. These include, among other things, a driver’s license suspension, the imposition of an ignition interlock device, fines, alcohol treatment, and probation or community custody.

If you or a loved one is faced with a DUI charge in Western Washington, you deserve the assistance of a reputable and qualified Seattle DUI attorney who will relentlessly defend your case. You deserve a Seattle DUI lawyer who has an intimate understanding of Washington DUI laws and the legal issues that could win your case. You deserve a Seattle DUI attorney who is not afraid to stand up against the prosecution and aggressively fight for your rights and interests. SQ Attorneys is the right Western Washington DUI law firm for the job. Call for a free initial consultation – (206) 441.0900 (Seattle); (425) 998-8384 (Eastside) – it will be the best decision you make all day.

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