When it comes to Washington DUI laws, many factors play into how severe the penalties will be after a conviction is entered.
One of these factors is whether the defendant has prior convictions on his or her record. A prior conviction can mean many different things, however, more than just an official DUI.
Prior Offense Defined
When it comes determining a mandatory sentence, many factors are considered.
These include whether the driver has prior DUI offenses, whether he or she complied with taking the breathalyzer test, whether an accident was involved in the incident, whether any children or other passengers were present at the time, and whether the judge believes the driver posed a risk to the community.
If the driver has one or more prior offense in his or her criminal history, the minimum jail sentence that the court has to impose will likely be increased.
A prior offense is defined as an offense that has occurred within the previous seven years of the date of the current arrest.
What Offenses Qualify As A Prior Offense?
The first and most obvious offense is another DUI conviction, so long as it occurred within the seven years before the current offense the driver is facing.
A DUI can be in Washington as well as any other jurisdiction for it to be considered a prior offense.
Physical control is another offense considered as a “prior.”
It involves an individual being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of or affected by alcohol or other substance or while the driver has sufficient alcohol in his or her body to have a BAC of 0.08 or higher within two hours after being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle.
A prior offense also includes reckless driving, if amended from a DUI charge. Reckless driving is defined as someone driving a motor vehicle with willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others or of property.
So long as the reckless driving charge occurred within the previous seven years and was a plea down from an original DUI charge, it will be considered a prior offense.
Another prior offense includes reckless endangerment, and like reckless driving, it is included if pleaded down from an original DUI charge and must have occurred within seven years of the current charge.
Negligent Driving in the First Degree
A prior offense also includes negligent driving in the first degree, which involves operating a motor vehicle in a way that is considered negligent.
This means that the individual has breached a standard of care that all drivers should follow when operating a motor vehicle.
This offense must be reduced from a DUI charge for it to be counted as a prior offense.
A deferred prosecution is included as a prior offense, even if it was dismissed after the required five-year period.
Deferred prosecution is a program for those who are seeking treatment for alcoholism, mental health or drug addiction.
The person must have admitted they have a problem for which treatment is needed and admit that without the treatment, he or she would likely re-offend.
Incidents Resulting in Injury
A prior offense also includes when an accident results from the DUI, including vehicular homicide or vehicular assault. The judge will also consider any injuries or death in determining the minimum sentence issued.
Operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle with THC in System
Another prior offense includes an individual operating a commercial vehicle with marijuana or THC in his or her system.
Operating Additional Vehicles or Devices Under Influence
A prior offense does not just include a car or truck. In fact, other vehicles or motorized devices can be included in terms of a prior offense.
These offenses include operating a vessel under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana or other mind-altering drug, otherwise known as Boating under the Influence (BUI).
If the person has previously been arrested for operating an aircraft under the influence, this offense will be considered as a prior one.
In addition, if he or she has operated a snowmobile under the influence, this can be considered as a prior in determining the penalty.
Lastly, if the person operated a golf cart under the influence or any other “non-highway” vehicle, that can be considered, as well, as a prior offense.