Washington has some of the toughest DUI laws in the entire nation. In fact, a DUI charge these days in the State of Washington may include more penalties, more court requirements than any number of non-violent felonies. A person is charged with the offense of DUI after driving with a blood alcohol content greater than .08 or, when there is no valid blood or breath test, and the driver is considered to be "under the influence". "Under the influence" means for purposes of Washington law, that the driver had consumed intoxicants and his or her ability to drive was effected to an appreciable degree. Even on a first offense for DUI, conviction brings a minimum of a day in jail and hefty fines among other court-mandated requirements. For the first time offender, the maximum penalty for DUI is one year in jail and a $5,000.00 fine. However, an aggressive and experienced DUI attorney can often minimize the impact of a DUI charge.
Pursuant to Washington State's DUI laws, one doesn't need to be drunk to be charged with DUI. The standard for the State of Washington is that the driver's ability to operate a motor vehicle was effected to an appreciable degree by the driver's consumption of intoxicants. If one's blood alcohol content is over .08, the driver is presumed to be intoxicated. In instances where there is, for whatever reason, no blood or breath alcohol sample, a driver can still be charged based upon the arresting officer's observations regarding one's physical coordination, speech and observed driving.
Road side tests are completely voluntary and you are never required to perform these physical drills. In fact, the primary tests used by law enforcement in the State of Washington, such as the "walk the imaginary line" and the requirement of "standing on one leg," seem almost designed to make the subject fail. The truth is, most adults are unable to perform these tests to standard even without having consumed any alcohol or other intoxicating substances. While law enforcement officers in Washington are trained to inform you that these road side tests are voluntary, sometimes they do not. Once more, there is no actual relationship between performance on these tests and one's ability to drive.
Like the road side tests, your providing a sample by blowing into the portable breath device is also completely voluntary. In addition, the results of this test can be used to establish "probable cause" in your case but are not admissible at trial. Generally, this device is unreliable and, like the road side tests, the hand-held breath test should always be refused.
Generally, I advise all of my clients to take the breath test at the station. The machine used at the police station is known as the Datamaster. First of all, a good number of judges in the State of Washington will not currently allow the results from the Datamaster to be used as evidence in their courtroom. The technology used in this machine is antiquated and there have been a number of problems with both the maintenance and function of this machine which have been documented by the local media. If you refuse the test, it can and, more than likely, will be used by the prosecutor as evidence of your guilt. However, given the very public controversies and history of problems with the machine, it would be hard to blame any citizen for being leery of this device and refusing to blow into it. However, I always urge clients when I am called to provide a sample in this machine.
Well, if you were arrested and questioned, the answer is yes. Once the officer arrests you, he or she is required to advise you of your Miranda Rights before he or she questions you. One should always, in such situations, ask the officer if you are under arrest.
Am I going to be charged with DUI? In most cases, you should receive a citation, a copy of the ticket printed out by the Datamaster machine if you blew into it, as well as a hearing request form for the Department of Licensing. However, some law enforcement officers simply forward their report of your arrest to the prosecutor who then, after reviewing the information, makes a decision as to whether or not to charge you. For example, in King County, the prosecutor may wait as long as four or five months before they issue a summons for you to appear in court. The important thing to know is that if your driver's license was "punched", you will more than likely be charged with DUI. In addition, you can expect that the Washington State Department of Licensing to bring a civil action against you for the suspension of your license. That is why it is very important that you request a hearing within twenty (20) days of your arrest.
Provided that your license was valid before you were arrested, you are still able to drive. However, the "punch", among other things, indicates that the Washington State Department of Licensing is about to commence a civil action against you to suspend your license as mentioned above. Your license will be valid for at least sixty (60) days following your arrest. At the bottom of the hearing request form that the officer handed you, he should have detached a strip from that document with a date written on it. You should keep that strip of paper with your driver's license.
First, the most important thing you need to know is that you must request a hearing within 20 days from the date of your arrest in order to avoid an automatic suspension of your driving privileges. Even for a first time offender, a DUI can bring a license suspension. In the instance of one whose blood alcohol content is below .15, the suspension will usually be for 90 days. For those who have a blood alcohol content in excess of .15, the suspension will last 120 days. Those who refused to give a sample of their blood or breath will face the loss of their license for a period of one (1) year. Those who are on their second or subsequent DUIs will face longer license revocations. The important thing to know is that you have options. We, along with you, will fill out the hearing request form and send it in. As part of your representation in a criminal DUI case, we will also represent you at the civil hearing with the Washington State Department of Licensing. The important thing to know is that you have options.
In order to reinstate your driving privileges, you will first have to file and maintain proof of financial responsibility in the form of SR-22 insurance. You will also have to pay a reissue fee to the Department of Licensing.
SR-22 insurance is required if your driving privileges are revoked. Through SR-22 insurance, the State of Washington is insuring that you can prove financial responsibility and receives assurances that they will be notified if your insurance is suspended.
In Washington, an ignition interlock device or "Blow and Go" is a compact machine which is hooked up to your vehicle and prevents it from starting if it detects alcohol in the breath samples you must submit in order to start your car. An ignition interlock license is a special license which is granted from the State of Washington to allow those who otherwise normally have their driving privilege revoked to have the ignition interlock device installed and have the SR-22 insurance. For those that do receive a license suspension, it is possible to have an ignition interlock license during the period of suspension to allow you to continue to drive.
First of all, you will be required to obtain an alcohol evaluation from a licensed and court recognized treatment facility. You will then have to follow up with the recommended treatment per the findings in your evaluation. The minimum amount of treatment that is required, even for those who are found to have no problem, is an 8 hour class known as Alcohol Drug Information School (ADIS). For those found to be chemically dependent, they could very well find themselves going through a complete two-year program at a certified treatment agency. This, if you are found to be chemically dependent or "an alcoholic". The evaluation you take, depending upon the final report, may result in a period of treatment somewhere in between the 8 hour class and the two year treatment program. The court will merely order you to receive the evaluation and follow-up with the recommended treatment.
First, if convicted of DUI or a lesser offense pursuant to a plea deal, you may still be required to attend the Victim's Impact Panel (VIP). The Victim's Impact Panel is usually an hour to two-hour course which involves participants hearing the stories of individuals who have lost family and friends as a result of drinking and driving. The panel usually costs between $30 and $40 to attend. Also, there may be a certain number of hours of community service required by the court and monetary fines. The fines can range anywhere from $866 up to $5,000. This, including court costs and other mandatory fees.
Deferred Prosecution is a very special program under Washington law which lasts five (5) years. For the first two (2) of those five (5) years are where the participant is required to go through the two-year treatment course referenced above. After that, the participant is required to go an additional three (3) years and maintain sobriety as well as law abiding behavior. During this time, the court will put your case on hold, save a limited number of review hearings. If you are able to successfully complete this program, you can look forward to having your case dismissed. However, participants are required to maintain law abiding behavior and absolute abstinence from alcohol and other non-prescription narcotics. Participants who do not follow these rules or pay their fines or meet the other requirements, the court can see their Deferred Prosecution revoked. In these cases, the court will simply review the police report and make a determination of the participant's guilt or innocence on the underlying DUI charge. This, as participants in Deferred Prosecution waive their right to trial as well as other important constitutional rights to go through this special program. This is a program that I seldom recommend because of the high failure rate of those participating in it.
Yes! However, sometimes the police pull over motorists without the necessary legal prerequisites. If one of the following examples were involved in your case, you may be able to have the matter dismissed if the issue can be established on a motion before the trial court:
There are other reasons as well that could lead to your stop being declared improper thus possibly resulting in the dismissal of your case.
CALL ME NOW at (253) 848-7788 if you think any of the instances above apply to your case or if you have questions on the specific details of your stop and arrest.
First and foremost, you will want to consult with and hire a qualified lawyer who limits his practice to DUI. But, more specifically, you will need to preserve your right to a hearing before the Department of Licensing as discussed previously in these Frequently Asked Questions. In addition, you will be receiving a summons shortly to appear in court arraignment. Your arraignment is essentially the start of the criminal proceedings against you. Sometimes people will get advice from friends or others that propose that one does not really need an attorney at their arraignment because they are only going to plead not guilty and have a court date set for the future. However, this is not true. The prosecutor in your case may want to put severe restrictions on your liberties as a condition of your pre-trial release. It is important to go into the arraignment with your lawyer. Your lawyer will enter a plea of not guilty for you. He will also fight to insure that you are released on your own personal recognizance or basically, on your signed promise to reappear in court with your attorney. Your attorney will set a pre-trial conference. Shortly thereafter, your attorney should receive the "discovery" or the police report and many other documents including the DUI packet which was processed by the arresting officer. After your attorney receives the discovery, he will more than likely invite you to meet with him at his office to review the reports and to go over the strengths and weaknesses of the State's or City's case against you. However, at the arraignment, NEVER plead guilty.
First of all, the penalties for the crime for which you are charged are severe and, you should know that the way you may interpret culpability in your DUI case is different from the standard that the law holds the State or City to. In short, the prosecutor is required to prove each element of the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. In addition, your experienced DUI defense attorney will carefully go over all of the evidence and look for violations of your constitutional rights which may cause the case to be dismissed. So even though you may think you might have violated the law, you still have options. There's always hope.
The short answer is yes, you can still be charged. If the officer believes you are impaired while driving, he or she may still cite you even though your BAC reading was below the .08 threshold. Remember, for those who do not have a BAC result in their case or for those who have registered below .08, the State can still prove guilt by establishing that your ability to drive was affected to an appreciable degree.
There are many factors which will determine whether or not your case goes to trial. Your case could be dismissed on motion or the subject of a favorable plea bargain. Know this: I stand ready to take your case to trial before a jury of your peers if that is what is required to clear your name.
I have an office located in downtown Puyallup at 112 West Meeker, Puyallup, Washington 98371. I have maintained an office and practiced in the Puyallup area for nearly 20 years.
The initial consultation is free. In addition, you can feel free to call me for a free evaluation of your case.
Well over 90% of my practice is devoted to representing those who are accused of DUI. I have intentionally made the decision to limit my practice to representing those who face this charge.
Fees should vary slightly from case to case. I pride myself on providing quality representation at an affordable price. I also offer discounts for seniors, veterans and active duty/reserve service members. After your initial consultation, I will quote you a flat fee which includes all representation of your case to include appearing for you with the Department of Licensing hearing.