What is a Prior Offense if charged with a Washington State DUI?
Many times I will be asked the question, "I had a DUI arrest a few years ago, but it was dropped to a Reckless Driving, so this new DUI is a first offense right?" Well, the answer may surprise many because it is no!
This new DUI is a second offense even though you were not convicted of the original DUI. It is a second offense in this scenario because the person was previously charged with a DUI and it was amended to one of the crimes which are considered "prior offenses" under the statute (RCW 46.61.5055 (14)).
What that means is the old DUI reduced to Reckless Driving or Negligent Driving counts against them if they are convicted of this new DUI. A new conviction will significantly increase the DUI penalties one may face (even if the original charge of DUI was amended to one of the prior offenses, if it was within 7 years from or after the date of the original arrest, it will count against them).
A prior offense means a conviction within (before or after) seven years for one of the following crimes if the original charge was a DUI or Physical Control:
- A previous conviction for a DUI
- A previous conviction for Physical Control
- A previous conviction for Reckless Driving (if amended down from DUI or Physical Control)
- A previous conviction for Reckless Endangerment (if amended down from DUI or Physical Control)
- A previous conviction for Negligent Driving in the First Degree (if amended down from DUI or Physical Control)
- A completed Deferred Prosecution (even if it was dismissed after 5 years per statute)
- A previous conviction for Vehicular Homicide
- A previous conviction for Vehicular Assault
- A previous conviction for Opertaing a Commercial Motor Vehicle with THC in System
- A previous conviction for Operation of a vessel under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana, or any drug (Boating Under the Influence - BUI)
- A previous conviction for Operating an Aircraft Under the Influence
- A previous conviction for Operating a Snowmobile Under the Influence
- A previous conviction for Operating any non-highway vehicle Under the Influence - Golf Cart, ATV, etc.
If your original charge was Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangerment or Negligent Driving in the in the First Degree and you were convicted, it does not count as a prior offense, only if it was originally charged as a DUI or Physical Control and amended down within or after 7 years from the date of arrest.
For example, if you were previously convicted of Reckless Driving and were then charged with a DUI, that Reckless Driving conviction does not increase sentencing penalties under the statute.
Another issue to note is that if you had a previous DUI within 7 years and were charged with a new DUI that was then amended down to Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangerment or Negligent Driving in the First Degree, that new conviction does not require any enhanced penalties but it would be considered a prior offense for any new DUI and if a Reckless Driving or Negligent Driving you would be subjected to a mandatory imposition of 6 months of Ignition Interlock. See RCW 46.20.720.
Figuring out what a prior offense is can be a difficult task and your Seattle DUI Lawyer needs to know how to apply any past convcitions or to make sure that something is not considered a prior offense when being sentenced for any DUI.
We are your Seattle DUI Attorneys and know all there is to know about DUI charges in Washington State so give us a call today to discuss your DUI or Physical Control case (425) 398-4323 or (844) DUI-GONE.