Washington State DUI Arrests Compared

Most Washington state DUI arrests are not felony DUI arrests. As discussed in a previous felony DUI article, a Seattle DUI or a DUI anywhere in Washington State can be charged as a felony if certain predicate facts exist, such as a prior conviction for Vehicular Assault in a lifetime or four prior DUI offenses within the last ten years. The King County prosecutor, Dan Satterberg, sends a newsletter entitled “The Prosecutor’s Post” to members of the Washington State Bar and the July, 2009 edition contained the following summary of a felony DUI case prosecuted by the King County Prosecutors office:

State v. Muriuki: Defendant Jackson Muriuki was convicted of Felony DUI. The defendant also has a 2006 conviction for vehicular assault and a previous conviction for DUI. The defendant's most recent conviction stems from a June 17, 2008 driving incident where the defendant was pulled over after police witnessed his seemingly aborted u-turn. Once stopped, the defendant refused a breath test, but his performance in field sobriety tests indicated that he was impaired. This repeat DUI offender is now looking at a standard range sentence of 15-20 months in prison under the State's new felony DUI statute, which makes DUI a felony if the defendant had four or more prior incidents within the previous 10 years.

A Washington State DUI arrest is a serious matter if it is charged as a misdemeanor but the penalties increase if there are sufficient predicate facts for a felony DUI charge. Our firm did not handle the defense of the Muriuki case referenced above and the case summary is entirely the prosecutor’s summary. However, this case illustrates that serious prison time can be one result of a DUI arrest that results in a felony conviction. What is not as well known is that even a Seattle misdemeanor DUI arrest can result in serious penalties including up to one year in jail and up to five years of active probation. Although it is unusual for a judge to impose a whole year in jail, such sentences do occur when a DUI judge feels the defendant’s record merits extreme punishment. A recent case in point is the sentencing of Reggie Rogers, who was sentenced to two years in jail for two misdemeanor DUI convictions.