Prior DUI Conviction
Everyone knows that the penalties for a DUI conviction are worse if you have been convicted of DUI before. However, one unusual aspect of Washington State’s DUI laws is that you can be treated as if you have had a prior DUI conviction even if you have not actually had a prior DUI conviction.Under Washington’s current DUI law, If you were arrested and charged with DUI within the last 7 years, that charge will count against you as a DUI (even if that charge was subsequently reduced to a “lesser charge” through plea bargaining and you were never convicted of DUI).
This is true even though you might have been told at the time of the previous reduction that it would not count as a DUI conviction in the future. Even a successfully completed Deferred Prosecution, which resulted in dismissal of the previous DUI charge, will count as a prior if the arrest was within seven years of the current incident.
Keep in mind that a judge retains the right to consider convictions more than seven years before the current incident in imposing a stiffer sentence, but prior offenses within seven years give the judge no choice but to impose the mandatory stiffer sentence.
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A “prior offense” means any of the following:
- A conviction of DUI or an equivalent local ordinance;
- A conviction of Physical Control or an equivalent local ordinance;
- A conviction of Vehicular Homicide committed while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug;
- A conviction of vehicular assault committed while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug;
- A conviction of Negligent Driving First Degree, Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangerment or an equivalent local ordinance, if the conviction is the result of a charge that was originally filed as
- a DUI or Physical Control;
- An out-of-state conviction for a violation of any of the above listed offenses;
- A deferred prosecution granted in a prosecution for a violation of a DUI, or an equivalent local ordinance; or
- A deferred prosecution granted in a prosecution for Negligent Driving, or an equivalent local ordinance, if the charge under which the deferred prosecution was granted was originally filed as a DUI or Physical Control, or an equivalent local ordinance, or of Vehicular Homicide or Vehicular Assault.“Within seven years” means that the arrest for a prior offense occurred within seven years of the arrest for the current offense.
**These laws are complex and must be read in the context of other Washington DUI laws in order to gain an accurate picture of the consequences of a DUI conviction in a particular factual setting.**
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