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Criminal Defense & Personal Injury Attorneys
For The Tacoma Area

Your Guide to Understanding BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) Limits in Washington

On Behalf of | Aug 1, 2019 | DUI

If you’ve wondered what the legal limit for blood alcohol level in Washington is, we’ve got the answers for you, plus a little more insight!. 

What is Blood Alcohol Content?

If you’ve heard of the term “BAC” and wondered what it truly means, it’s basically the percentage of the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. Therefore, a person with a 0.10% BAC has one-tenth of a percentage of alcohol for every 100mL of their blood. 

Practically speaking, 0.08% alcohol content is where someone would begin to lose balance and muscle control, which is why it is the legal limit in America. 

Blood Alcohol Level Limit in Washington

The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level in Washington is 0.08%. 

In fact, a BAC level of 0.08 is actually the federal legal limit for operating a vehicle in any state in the United States. Washington just happens to follow suit like most other states (Utah recently lowered the legal limit in their state to 0.05%). An exception to this rule in Washington is when driving a commercial vehicle, in which case the legal BAC limit is 0.04.

Under 21: The “Zero Tolerance” Limit

Most states have a law that designates zero tolerance for drunk driving for people under the age of 21. This limit is significantly less than the normal legal limit, some states even having zero-tolerance whatsoever (in other words, 0% BAC).

In the case of Washington, the legal limit for blood alcohol content in a person under the age of 21 is 0.02%, which is similar to most other states. This means that if someone under 21 is driving with a BAC level of 0.02% or more they are considered legally impaired. 


You may have heard these two terms used interchangeably. Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are, for all intents and purposes, the same thing. 

Some states make distinctions between the two, such as how excessively the driver was over the state’s limit for blood alcohol content. For example, some states classify a DUI as a lesser offense than DWI, based on the person’s BAC level.

Washington State does not make this distinction though. In Washington State, if someone is caught driving with a BAC above the legal limit of 0.08% then that individual would be charged with the offense of DUI.

Contact Durflinger Oliver & Associates Today

If you’ve been charged with a DUI, you need to know your rights and speak with a professional who can help guide you through the process. The experienced DUI Defense Attorney’s at Durflinger Oliver & Associates can help. Call 253-666-8927 today to schedule your free consultation.