In response to public pressure that Washington DUI laws were not severe enough on multiple DUI offenders, the Washington State Legislature passed the Felony DUI law in 2006. This new law, effective in July of 2007, made DUI and Physical Control a Class C felony crime, as opposed to a gross misdemeanor, in certain specific circumstances.
Detailed information about felony DUI can be found below. However, if you have been charged with felony DUI, do not hesitate to contact a Washington Felony DUI Lawyer immediately. State prosecutors treat felony DUI charges very seriously. They tend to consider the public sentiment that led to the creation of the felony DUI statute as a mandate. Very high bail amounts are generally requested at a first appearance or arraignment and a number of very restrictive conditions are normally sought as well.
For immediate assistance or consultation on a Felony DUI charge, contact one of our attorneys at Milios Defense.
Elements of Felony DUI in Washington
The Washington Felony DUI statute was an amendment to the existing DUI and Physical Control statutes RCW 46.61.502, 504. Both statutes make what would normally be a gross misdemeanor a felony in one of two situations. Both hinge upon the driver’s DUI and criminal traffic related history. If a person has three or more “prior offenses” within ten years of the most recent DUI, as defined by RCW 46.61.5055, 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.
Washington Felony DUI Penalties
Felony DUI, regardless of the prong under which it is being charged, is a Class C felony with a seriousness level V. RCW 9.94A.515. That means that if a person had 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 would ever have 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. Prior alcohol related vehicular assaults and vehicular homicides count as two (2) points.
Therefore, the lowest possible range for a person facing a Felony DUI under the first prong would be 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 would be 13-17 months in prison based upon an offender score of two.
In addition to prison time, a person would also face similar penalties and sanctions as he would with a DUI conviction. These include license suspension, imposition of ignition interlock device, fines, alcohol treatment, and probation or community custody.
Case Law Update
In June of 2010, Division One of the Washington State Court of Appeals delivered an opinion defining what constitutes a “prior offense” pursuant to RCW 46.61.5055. The Court in State of Washington v. Robert Castle, ruled that in order for a “prior” to be considered for the purpose of charging under the Felony DUI statute, not only did the incident have to predate the current offense, it must have led to a conviction before the current offense occurred as well. For a more complete analysis of this ruling visit Washington State Court of Appeals Dismisses Felony DUI Case.