DUI Insurance Laws in Washington State

A BAC level of 0.08 or higher is enough for a DUI arrest in WA. Expecting penalties including jail time, fines up to $5,000, and SR-22 requirements for at least three years.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Jan 21, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

Located in the northwest corner of the country, Washington is a picturesque state of green space.

The Evergreen State is the 18th largest state with six prominent geographical lands areas that help to make the beautiful scenic byways for which Washington is known.

Residents and tourists alike can experience the breathtaking views of a rainforest, volcanoes, rivers, streams, a desert, and wine country within one state.

This picturesque driving experience does not negate the fact that Washington has its share of drunk drivers.

If you need Washington car insurance, you can get price quotes from area car insurance companies today for FREE with our quote comparison tool above!

Washington State DUI Laws

Washington has a standard DUI law similar to most states. Additionally, a new law was passed in 2011 aimed at further prevention of DUI accidents.

It is illegal for anyone to drive a vehicle in Washington state while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The typical physical signs of intoxication are not necessary when law enforcement stops a person. Suspicion and a chemical test that shows a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or more is enough for an arrest.

Washington DUI insurance laws include a statue for drivers under age 21. The blood alcohol level for drivers under 21 is 0.02 – 0.08. Drivers can face a 90-day license suspension.

Those with an alcohol level above 0.08 will face the same penalties as a driver over 21.

In July 2011, Washington began recognizing a new law called Hailey’s Law that requires car towing for all DUI arrests.

The vehicles must remain impounded for a minimum 12 hours. The vehicle can be released to a registered owner who was not present during the arrest before the 12 hours expire.

Washington also has enforced an Implied Consent Law.

Driving the roadways and highways of Washington is an automatic consent to the following:

  • blood test
  • breath test
  • field sobriety test

Law enforcement can require a driver take one or all of these tests. Refusal to take the tests could result in a revocation of the driver’s license.

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Penalties for DUI Offenses in Washington State

A first offense DUI is considered a misdemeanor offense and may result in the following penalties:

  • One day or up to one year in jail
  • 15-day house arrest in lieu of jail time
  • Fines between $350 and $5,000
  • Suspended license for 90 days

A first offense conviction may qualify for an Occupational/Restricted Driver License (ORL) after the first 30 days of a suspension.

A second offense is a gross misdemeanor under Washington law and the penalties include:

  • Jail time of 30 days or up to one year
  • Fines of $500 to $5,000 in fines
  • Driver’s license suspension for two years

With a third offense within seven years, drivers face the following penalties:

  • 120 days minimum of jail time; maximum jail time is one year
  • 150 days home monitoring; five years monitored probation
  • $500 to $5,000 in fines and court costs
  • Four-year license revocation and then five-year probationary license
  • Up to 10 years of an ignition interlock device on personal vehicle

Washington State DUI Insurance Options

When a driver is convicted of a DUI offense in Washington, he or she is required to purchase SR22 insurance. This is a high-risk car insurance policy that costs more than standard insurance.

Most drivers are required to carry SR22 insurance for at least three years.

Over time, this can become extremely expensive. Several insurance carriers licensed in Washington state offer SR22 insurance policies.

If you are classified as a high-risk driver, insurance companies are likely going to charge you prices much higher than the average car insurance rates.

Even though this is an expensive policy, drivers should comparison shop for car insurance quotes from several different carriers.

Contesting or Appealing Suspension in Washington State

Specific facts surrounding the case will determine whether the appeal of a license suspension is granted.

Typically, a driver has 20 days after the arrest to request a hearing either online or by mail. There is a $200 fee to request a hearing. This fee will not be refunded if the driver fails to appear or cancels the hearing date.

The online request is submitted through the Washington State Department of Licensing.

The driver must include:

  • Driver’s license number
  • Arrest date
  • Identifying number
  • Daytime telephone number
  • Valid credit card

Drivers can also mail a request for a hearing to contest or appeal a DUI conviction. Typically, law enforcement will give the driver a request form at the time of arrest.

The form must be completed and postmarked or received within 20 days after an arrest.

Be sure to try our FREE quote comparison tool below to see if you can find a company that offers lower high-risk car insurance rates!

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