DUI (Driving under the influence)
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) refers to operating a motor vehicle while affected by alcohol, drugs, or both. This applies to both legal and illegal drugs, including prescription medication and over-the-counter drugs.
How is DUI determined?
If DUI is suspected, the amount of alcohol in the driver’s blood is measured by a breath or blood test. The driver will be cited for DUI if the results are:
- .08 or higher for adults.
- .02 or higher for minors (under 21).
What can I expect if I am stopped for DUI?
If you are stopped for suspected DUI, the law enforcement officer may:
- ask if you have consumed any alcohol or drug-related substances.
- ask you to take a field sobriety test.
- ask you to submit to a breath test. If your blood alcohol content is .08 or higher, you may be cited and taken to jail. You also may request to have a blood test.
What if I refuse to take the breath or blood test?
If you refuse to take the test, your license will be revoked. When you operate a motor vehicle in Washington State, you automatically give consent to have your breath or blood tested if a law enforcement officer believes you have been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is Washington's Implied Consent law.
DUI license suspensions
Will my driver license be suspended immediately after I’m stopped for DUI?
No. The amount of time until the suspension takes effect depends on the type of offense.
How long will my license be suspended?
Your license may be suspended from 90 days to 4 years, based on prior offenses and your blood alcohol level.
I am licensed in a state other than Washington. What happens if I am cited for DUI in Washington State?
When we are notified of your DUI, we:
- record it on your Washington State driving record.
- take the appropriate action to suspend or revoke your driving privileges.
- forward a copy to the state where you are licensed. They may also take action if required by their state laws.
I don’t have a driver license. How can you suspend something I don’t have?
An unlicensed driver stopped for a DUI will be reported the same way a licensed driver would be. If you do not have a record with the Washington State Department of Licensing, a record will be created based on the information provided by the law enforcement agency.
Contesting or appealing a license suspension
If you are arrested for DUI, you may request a hearing within 20 days of the arrest:
- online, with a Washington driver license and a valid Visa or MasterCard.
- by mailing a completed Driver’s Hearing Request and the $200 fee to the address on the request form. This form must be postmarked or received within 20 calendar days from the date of the arrest. In most cases, the law enforcement officer will give you a hearing request form at the time of your arrest. If no form is available, you may submit a written request and the fee.
Does it cost anything to appeal a DUI suspension?
There is a $200 fee for requesting a DUI hearing. This fee will not be refunded if you cancel the hearing or fail to appear when scheduled.
Note: If you are found to be indigent (your income is below the Washington State cut-off level), you may not be required to pay the fee. The Driver’s Hearing Request form includes an application to waive the hearing fee.
Where can I find information about appealing my suspension?
- The letter you received notifying you of your license suspension.
- The Hearings section of this website.
What issues will be considered at a DUI hearing?
During your DUI hearing, the hearing officer will consider:
- Whether you were lawfully placed under arrest.
- Whether the officer had reasonable grounds to believe any of the following:
- You were driving or were in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- You were under the age of 21 years and were driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol.
- Whether you were advised of the Implied Consent Warnings.
- Whether you refused the breath or blood test.
- Whether the breath or blood test exceeded the legal limits:
- .08 or more if over age 21,
- .02 or more if under age 21.
- .04 or more if driving a commercial vehicle.
- Whether the breath or blood test was administered according to the law and Washington State Toxicologist Rules.
How can I get my license back?
It depends on several factors, including your blood alcohol content and whether you were involved in any previous DUI incidents. Your suspension letter lists everything you need to do to get your license back. To learn more about DUI suspensions or how to get your license back, please contact us:
Frequently asked questions
What happens if I win my license hearing, but the court still finds me guilty of DUI?
Your driving privilege will still be suspended based on the court conviction. The administrative hearing in your favor doesn’t override the court suspension.
If the court reduces the DUI to Reckless Driving, will my driving record show the reduced charge?
Yes, but the reduced charge doesn’t affect the administrative action we take as a result of the DUI. Any license suspensions, revocations, or disqualifications won’t be reduced or changed if a court reduces the criminal charge.
Can I get a restricted license while my license is suspended?
While your driver license is suspended or revoked, you may get an Ignition Interlock Driver License (IIL) that will allow you to drive a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device for the period of your suspension or revocation. Once you get the IIL, you waive your right to ask for a hearing.