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How Prior DUI Convictions Impact Your Washington DUI Charge

Posted by Aaron J. Wolff | Jan 30, 2013 | 0 Comments

The recent arrest of a Billings, Montana man for his seventh DUI got us wondering what happens if you are charged with a DUI in Washington and have multiple prior convictions on your record.

In the Montana case, 48-year-old Robert Luis Cedeno was busted for a DUI after he allegedly struck a tree near Billings City Hall and then drove off as an officer approached, reports the AP.

When he was finally caught, it was discovered that Cedeno had six prior DUI convictions: five in New York between 1990 and 1995 and another in Wyoming from 2005. Given his previous record, Montana prosecutors have now charged Cedeno with a felony DUI.   But what would have happened had the arrest occurred in Washington?

Given the timing of Cedeno's prior convictions, it's possible that he could have avoided felony charges had he been arrested in Washington.

How Prior DUI Convictions Are Considered in Washington

Generally, in Washington, someone faces more severe penalties if he is charged with a DUI and has a prior conviction on his record. And if someone is charged with a DUI while having four prior convictions on his record, that person may face felony DUI charges.

In Washington, under RCW 46.61.5055, a "prior offense" is either a conviction for DUI or a conviction for an amended charge (such as reckless driving or negligent driving first degree) that was originally charged as DUI.

However, prosecutors in Washington typically can't consider every prior DUI conviction on your record.

Instead, they can usually only go back seven years when determining if you have three or fewer prior DUI convictions and ten years if you have four or more prior DUI convictions.

So given the timing of Cedeno's prior convictions, it's likely that only one prior conviction – his 2005 conviction in Wyoming – would have been considered in Washington.

Contact a Seattle DUI Attorney

If you have been charged with a DUI in Washington, you should know that prior DUI convictions can significantly increase the penalties you face. That is why it is important to contact the attorneys at Wolff Criminal Defense if you have been arrested in the Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, or other King County areas.

Our attorneys can explain the charges you face and chart the best options for your defense. Contact us at 425-284-2000 for a free consultation.

About the Author

Aaron J. Wolff

A former DUI prosecutor, Aaron Wolff has over 16 years of experience in representing people accused of DUI and is recognized as one of the leading defense lawyers in Washington State. His relentless and passionate advocacy has lead to superb ratings and outstanding reviews from former clients.

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