Alcohol and Motor Vehicle Use

Driving under the influence (DUI) refers to operating a motor vehicle while affected by alcohol, drugs, or both.

Motor vehicle incidents involving drunk or drugged driving cost our state millions of dollars each year in serious injuries, property damage, medical costs, lost work time, and death. This does not include the emotional toll on friends and families of those charged with DUI and their victims.

It is important to understand that even a small amount of alcohol can affect motor skills (like coordination, response time, etc.) and judgment. The best choice is not to operate a motor vehicle if you have been drinking.

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 (Commercial Drivers License disqualifications)
    • .02 or higher for minors (under 21)
  • 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.

Costs to individuals for DUI may include the following:

  • Jail time of up to one year
  • A fine from $350 - $5000
  • License suspension, which may impact the ability to work
  • A home monitoring system and/or an ignition interlock device, including the cost of each
  • Increased insurance costs
  • Lawyer’s fees and court costs
  • Alcohol or drug treatment

A taxi or rideshare is much cheaper than the total costs of the above.

Repeat DUI offenders face more severe penalties if convicted. The WA State Administrative Office of the Courts has a sentencing grid that outlines these penalties for those 21 and over.

Specific information about DUI driver’s license suspensions is available on the WA Dept. of Licensing website.



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