Barbara A. Bowden

Tacoma, WA DUI Attorney

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Are there different penalties for DUI and reckless driving in Washington?

Reckless driving in the state of Washington is committed when you drive a motor vehicle with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of human beings or property. The crime of reckless driving is a gross misdemeanor in the state, punishable by a jail term of up to 364 days, and a fine as large as $5,000. Upon conviction for reckless driving, your driver’s license will be suspended for a period of 30 days, upon DOL notifying you 45 days after your conviction. In some instances, a DUI charge can be reduced to a reckless driving charge, although reckless driving is a non-alcohol related offense.

When a reckless driving conviction is the result of a reduced DUI or Physical Control charge or if there is a prior DUI or Physical Control conviction within 7 years, then there may be a mandatory six-month Ignition Interlock Device requirement which remains in effect until an IID vendor certifies to the DOL that none of the following occurred within four months prior to the date of release:

  • The driver attempted to start the vehicle with a BAC of 0.04 or more;
  • The driver failed to take or pass a required retest, or
  • The driver failed to appear at the IID vendor as required.

Regardless of the underlying facts, a conviction for the crime of reckless driving can have serious consequences, including a significant increase in insurance rates. A reckless driving conviction can even potentially impact your immigration status or the ability to enter other countries. A reckless driving conviction is preferable to a DUI conviction, in that there is no mandatory jail or ignition interlock requirement on a first offense, and the license suspension is much shorter on a reckless driving conviction. During the 30-day period of license suspension for a reckless driving conviction, you can drive with an ignition interlock license. Contact our experienced attorneys today with your questions.