What is DUI?
Driving under the influence (DUI) refers to operating a vehicle while affected by alcohol, drugs, or both. This applies to both legal and illegal drugs, including prescription medication and over-the-counter drugs.
DUI license suspensions
There are 2 separate license suspensions or revocations for DUI:
- If you're arrested for DUI:
We'll suspend your driver license unless:
- You request a hearing to contest the suspension within 7 days of your arrest.
- The hearing examiner decides in your favor.
If you don't request a hearing or the hearing examiner doesn't decide in your favor, your license will be suspended for 90 days to 2 years, depending on prior offenses and the severity of the incident. Your suspension will begin 30 days from the date of your arrest. For details, see Hearings, the Hearing Request Form provided by the arresting officer, or the letter we sent you.
If the hearing examiner decides in your favor, but the court still convicts you of DUI, your driver license will be suspended as a result of the court conviction. A hearing decision in your favor applies only to the suspension resulting from the arrest.
- If you're convicted of DUI in court:
We may suspend your driver license for 90 days to 4 years, depending on prior offenses and the severity of the incident. The suspension will begin 45 days after we receive notice from the court showing you were convicted.
We'll give you credit for any suspension time resulting from your arrest. So if you already served a 90-day suspension for your arrest, that 90 days will be automatically credited toward the suspension time for the conviction.
You may ask us to review the accuracy of the information received from the court, but you can't request a hearing to contest a suspension resulting from a court conviction.
Avoid further suspension
You may avoid more suspensions and fees if you meet the following:
- You have full credit for time served for the same incident.
- You must meet and we must receive the following requirements:
- A paid fee for the same incident.
- The ignition interlock installation compliance.
- The alcohol assessment and treatment report requirements compliance.
- Financial responsibility compliance, if applicable.
Getting a restricted license during your suspension
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.
How to get your license back after the suspension
It depends on several factors, including your blood alcohol content and whether you were involved in any previous DUI incidents. To learn how to reinstate your license, see the suspension letter we sent you.
Alcohol Assessment and Treatment Report requirements
When you're convicted of a drug and/or alcohol related offense, you're required to get an Alcohol/Drug Assessment/Treatment Report from a Washington state certified agency. The report provides the following information:
- No substance abuse/dependence concerns
- If there are no concerns – you'll need to take a one-day class from a Washington state certified agency
- Current treatment progress and whether or not you're compliant with the recommendations
Your certified counselor submits the form electronically. Your record will be updated once the form has been evaluated and will be processed in the order received.
Frequently asked questions
How is DUI determined?
A driver may be charged with DUI if:
- The results of a breath or blood test show the amount of alcohol in the driver's blood to be:
- .08 or higher for adults (21 and over).
- .04 or higher for commercial vehicle drivers (CDL disqualifications).
- .02 or higher for minors (under 21).
- He or she is found to be driving a vehicle under the influence or affected by alcohol, any drug, or a combination of alcohol and drugs, regardless of the concentration of alcohol in their breath or blood.
- Starting August 1, 2012, the definition of a drug also includes any chemical inhaled or ingested for its intoxicating or hallucinatory effects.
I'm licensed in a state other than Washington. What happens if I'm cited for DUI in Washington State?
When we're notified of your DUI, we:
- Record it on your Washington State driving record.
- Suspend or revoke your driving privilege in Washington State.
- Forward a copy to the state where you're licensed. They may also take action if required by their state laws.
If the court reduces the charge from DUI to Reckless Driving, Negligent Driving, or some other reduced charge, will my driving record show the reduced charge?
Yes, but the reduced charge doesn't affect the suspension period resulting from your arrest. Any license suspension, revocation, or disqualification won't be reduced or changed even if a court reduces the criminal charge.
What about my CDL?
If you don't request a hearing or you lose the hearing, your commercial driver’s license (CDL) or commercial learner’s permit (CLP) will be disqualified under RCW 46.25.090. Disqualification means that you can't drive your commercial motor vehicle. This disqualification is automatic if you lose the hearing and is not an issue for the hearing.