Washington’s laws against driving while under the influence (DUI) are so severe that even a driver who has not had a sip of alcohol can face DUI charges. The state’s DUI laws include legal prescription medications among the substances considered as intoxicating.

DUI is a serious criminal offense in Washington. A conviction can affect you and your family for many years to come. Penalties can include jail time and thousands of dollars in fines, plus the loss of driving privileges for months – even years.

Our legal team can defend against DUI charges stemming from the use of prescription drugs, such as painkillers, antidepressants, and/or other medications such as Ambien. We perform a thorough examination of the case against you to determine the strongest means of defense against your charges. With respect to your questions and concerns, we have provided a look at what you need to know about the potential impact of a DUI conviction.

Washington’s DUI Laws and Prescription Drugs

Chapter 46.61.502 of the Revised Code of Washington establishes the state’s laws for driving while under the influence. The “drunk driving” code does not limit the definition of DUI to alcohol, but instead includes “any drug” under which a driver may be impaired. This can include legal prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Your legal right to possess and consume a drug for prescribed medical or psychological purposes does not make you immune to punishment. This means you may be arrested and charged with DUI if you are found to be driving after taking a legally prescribed medication, such as anti-anxiety drugs or pain relievers, even at therapeutic levels; You don’t need to be abusing the medication to be impaired by it. An attorney can examine the facts of your case to determine if your arrest and the charges against you meet the standards established by the state’s DUI laws. A case that does not meet the standards may be challenged in a court of law.

The Criminal Penalties for a DUI Conviction in Washington

The criminal penalties for conviction of a prescription drug DUI in Washington range significantly.

Factors in your case that impact your potential punishment include:

  • whether you have had any previous DUI convictions and the timing of those convictions;
  • whether there were minor children aged 15 years or younger, or other passengers in the vehicle at the time of your arrest; and
  • other extenuating circumstances (such as whether or not you were involved in a traffic collision, etc.).

The courts use guidelines established in Chapter 46.61.5055 of the Revised Code of Washington to determine appropriate penalties for a driver convicted of DUI in Everett and greater Snohomish County. Penalties can range from one day to one year in jail. Fines can reach or exceed $5,000.

In addition to criminal penalties, you may face administrative action from the state’s Department of Licensing. A DUI conviction may mean the loss of driving privileges for anywhere from 90 days to three years or more. Again, the severity of the punishment depends on whether you previously have been convicted of a related crime. Other penalties include the requirement to maintain an ignition interlock device, SR-22 insurance, counseling and may involve monetary restitution for damages caused by your acts.

Your attorney can provide you with additional details about penalties and how to minimize the charges against you.

Who to Call When You Are Ready to Stand Up For Your Rights

Are you ready to defend your rights in the wake of a DUI arrest? You may schedule your initial case consultation with the Deno Millikan Law Firm, PLLC today.