Prosecuting those arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) has been the State of Washington’s largest criminal justice priority for the last 20 years. The statute governing DUI in the state of Washington is RCW 46.61.502. It sets forth the basic elements needed for a conviction. RCW 46.61.506 deals with what is necessary for a breath test to be admissible while RCW 46.61.5055 sets out, in a rather convoluted format, the mandatory penalties imposed on a DUI conviction. You’ll find the clearer Washington DUI Sentencing Grid here.
There are essentially two ways in which the state can attempt to prove DUI. The most common and well know is by proving that a person had a .08 or greater breath or blood alcohol concentration within two hours of driving. It is an affirmative defense to this charge if the individual can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that alcohol that had been consumed after the time of driving was the cause of a .08 breath or blood alcohol level.
The other method is by proving that the individual had been driving under the influence or combined influence of alcohol or drugs. To be successful, the state would have to prove that the defendant had been “appreciably affected” by alcohol or drugs consumed prior to the time of driving. The state relies on this prong of the DUI statute when it does not have a breath or blood test to use, either because the court has deemed it inadmissible, the individual allegedly refused the BAC test or there isn’t a test available for some other reason (i.e. BAC machine malfunction).