A DUI/DWI offense in Washington is not taken lightly. There are several changes that have been made to the DUI law of Washington in the past few years, strengthening the laws, penalties, and regulations set forth on drivers in Washington. Drinking and driving is one of the most dangerous practices for drivers, and can cause serious damages, injuries, and even death. The only way to avoid a DUI charge in Washington is to never get behind the wheel if you have consumed an alcoholic beverage or controlled substance – even if you don’t feel impaired or haven’t consumed much at all.

When you get on the road after consuming alcohol or narcotics, the penalties could be much more than what the DMV requires, with criminal penalties, and the guilt of injuries or death that you may cause in the act. Understanding the DUI laws in Washington is a great way to better understand why and how offenses are so serious, and just how far you can go before you have committed a crime.

What is a Washington DUI?

Of course it can be confusing to really understand the DUI/DWI laws in Washington due to the fact that they have reformed over the years, and you really never know what the limit, or boundary, is until you are encountered with the situation.

  • If you don’t feel impaired, are you?
  • If you only had a little to drink and feel a buzz, are you over the limit?
  • If you aren’t over the limit in a Breathalyzer but seem to be impaired, is it still a DUI offense?
  • What if you refuse to take the Breathalyzer when requested?

All these questions and more may go through your mind as you think about a DUI/DWI – so, what is Washington’s law against drinking and driving, and when are you over the limit?

If you are suspected of driving drunk in Washington, you will likely be stopped by law enforcement and asked to submit to chemical testing in the form of a Breathalyzer, or even to “walk the line” – the ever infamous walk of drunk drivers. An officer may stop you for a myriad of reasons that cause suspicion of your sobriety – and that does include for medications and drugs.

  • Driving too close to the shoulder.
  • Swerving while driving for no apparent reason.
  • Over-calculating turns or bends.
  • Driving “too carefully”.
  • Driving too slowly or even speeding.
  • Making erratic decisions while driving.

When it comes to the limit of intoxication allowed, just remember that it is best to have a .00% BAC than anything as you could be taken to jail anyway. However, the legal limit for adults is .08%, and for minors under the age of 21 – who shouldn’t be drinking anyway as it is against the law – the limit is .02%.

During a DUI/DWI Traffic Stop in Washington

When you are stopped by law enforcement under suspicion for a DUI/DWI offense, the following may occur:

  • You will be asked whether you have consumed alcohol or any type of drugs or prescription medications.
  • You will be asked to submit to a field sobriety test – “Walk the Line”.
  • You will be asked to submit to a Breathalyzer. If you have a BAC of .08% or higher, expect to go right to jail, no questions asked. If you wish, you are entitled to requesting a blood test be administered as well.

Implied Consent Law in Washington

There is an Implied Consent Law in effect in Washington, which makes it against the law to refuse blood-alcohol testing when requested by law enforcement. If you don’t think that the law applies to you, think again. Once you sign for your driver’s license, you are accepting the terms and conditions of this law.

If you refuse to be tested, you can expect your license to be revoked, as that is the penalty for breaking this law.

If you are convicted of a DUI, your license may be suspended for a term of 90 days to up to 4 years, which is based on your prior DUI-related offenses.

For more information about DUI offenses, cases, and convictions in the state of Washington, visit the state website at DUI (Driving Under the Influence) 


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