The law in Washington State requires that a person who is convicted of a DUI be sentenced to certain minimum jail sentences. These sentences can be confusing and depend on several factors. The most important factors in determining these minimum penalties are the BAC test result and the number of prior DUI offenses.
In general, the absolute minimum amount of jail time a person can receive as a result of being convicted of a DUI is one day. This is the minimum penalty when the defendant has no prior convictions and blew less than 0.15 on the BAC test.
As the number of prior offenses goes up, the minimum jail time also goes up. For instance, a person who blew less than 0.15 but who has one prior DUI offense will face a mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail. Similarly, a person who blew less than 0.15 but who has two prior DUI offenses is looking at a minimum of 90 days in jail.
The penalties for DUI convictions in which the defendant blew at least a 0.15 on the BAC are also greater. A person who blew at least a 0.15 and who has no prior offenses will face a mandatory minimum of two days in jail. A person who blew at least a 0.15 and who has one prior DUI conviction is looking at a minimum jail time of 45 days.
Certain other factors can affect the minimum jail time a person will receive for a DUI conviction. For instance, if there is a passenger under the age of 16 in the car when the DUI occurred, the defendant with no prior offenses will receive an additional day in jail.
Finally, it is important to remember that these minimum penalties are just that—they are the minimums a judge can impose. A judge who believes that a person deserves more jail time can impose up to 364 days in jail for a misdemeanor DUI offense. Because the judge has discretion in imposing DUI sentences, it is important that the defendant and defense counsel show the judge that the defendant is taking the necessary steps to make sure that he or she will not reoffend.