Washington is one of the strictest states in the union when it comes to punishment for driving under the influence. This includes marijuana as well as alcohol and other drugs. All states use the .08 blood alcohol concentration level as the threshold for being considered under the influence, but Washington also uses the measurement of the THC level in the body at the time of the arrest. Any driver who tests with over five nanograms of THC per milliliter in their system is also considered as under the influence.
Penalties for intoxicated driving are usually based on the material facts of the case. Aggravated charges are often filed when the driver registers over .14 for alcohol or has a minor child in the vehicle. Just as with driving under the influence of alcohol, penalties are enhanced with subsequent arrests involving marijuana so that the punishment will be based on the number of prior convictions. But, aggravated circumstances are not based on a magnified level of THC concentration, so the potential for a harsh penalty may be may be a bit lower for marijuana.
Penalties for a first conviction for driving under the influence of marijuana range from $350 to $5000. Fines for subsequent convictions are increased to $500 to $5000, while penalties for impaired driving from a second conviction in seven years can range from $1000 to $5000, this is not including costs for house incarceration when it is issued.
Washington has a relatively higher incarceration schedule for those convicted of impaired driving. This does not include penalties for being caught with marijuana without a prescription or having more than the allowed amount, which is separate charges. First convictions will result in a 24 hr mandatory incarceration period, but can be increased to up to one year in an aggravated situation. Drivers with a second conviction within seven years will receive a minimum of 30 days incarceration up to one year while third convictions and above can result in 30 days to one year in addition to 120 days house arrest.
First offenders receive a driving privilege suspension of 90 days, which is greater than the standard 30 days. Those convicted of a second DUI will be suspended for two years, while three or more impaired driving convictions can result in a three-year drivers license suspension.
Charges for driving under the influence of marijuana in Washington are still very serious legal matters, especially when involved in an accident. Anyone charged with DUI should always retain an experienced local criminal defense attorney immediately. If you or a family member have been charged with impaired driving or DUI, you need to retain a local Bellevue criminal defense attorney or DUI lawyer in Seattle to represent their case to ensure that their rights are adequately protected.