A DUI in Washington is generally a gross misdemeanor, but it can be elevated to a felony if the defendant has three prior offenses, as defined under the statutes within the past 10 years. RCW 46.61.502. RCW 46.61.5055 sets out which convictions qualify as prior offenses, including reckless driving if it resulted from a charge that was originally filed as a DUI. A Seattle DUI attorney can explain whether a conviction may be considered a prior offense.
The Supreme Court of Washington recently reviewed a felony DUI conviction. At the time of the offense, the statute required four prior offenses for elevation to a felony, but it has subsequently been amended to require only three. The defendant had a previous DUI conviction, a first-degree negligent driving conviction, and two convictions for reckless driving. At trial and on appeal, the defendant argued that the state failed to present sufficient evidence that the reckless driving convictions “involved alcohol.”
The trial court assessed the prior convictions on the record and found that there was sufficient evidence for the case to move forward. The court did not instruct the jury that it had to find that each prior offense involved alcohol to find the defendant guilty of felony DUI.