The state of Washington defines Driving Under the Influence (DUI) as a criminal offense for any person who drives a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
It’s considered a per se violation for anyone who drives under the influence of either alcohol or marijuana with a certain amount of the substance in their system. Anyone who has an alcohol concentration of .08 or higher in their breath or blood is considered over the legal limit. For marijuana, the legal limit is 5.00 nano-grams of THC. It is important to know you don’t necessarily have to be over those limits to be found in violation of the law. If you’re found to have consumed alcohol or drugs and your ability to drive is affected, then you can be found to be in violation of the law.
I Was Charged With DUI In Pierce County. What’s Going To Happen To My Driver’s License?
Formal charges do not need to be filed against you in order to suffer license consequences. There is both a criminal and civil side to DUI arrests. The criminal side is processed from the criminal court of the prosecutor’s office, while the civil side is processed through the department of licensing. As in most states, it’s considered a privilege to be able to drive a car in WA, and so the department of licensing has administrative power to suspend or revoke your license. That process often begins much quicker than formal criminal charges.
When arrested for a DUI, you will likely face a suspension or revocation of your driving privileges. A suspension is like a timeout from driving, whereas your license is taken away when it is revoked.
You can contest or challenge a suspension/revocation with the Department of Licensing (DOL), but you have to act quickly. Washington only allows seven days from the day of arrest to request a hearing. It’s important to consult with a DUI attorney right away to assist you in this process and preserve your rights.
Is A DUI Charge A Misdemeanor Or Felony In Washington State?
Generally, a first time DUI will be considered a gross misdemeanor. However, a DUI might rise to the level of a felony if a person has three or more DUIs in a 10 year period.
I Refused The Breathalyzer Test After DUI Arrest In Tacoma. What Are The Consequences I Will Face?
Refusing the breathalyzer, or breath test, is considered an aggravating factor in DUIs. This can make the consequences greater or more severe in both terms of department of licensing and with the courts. The DOL can revoke your license for up to one year. In court, you could face more jail time and higher fines.
Refusal of a breathalyzer is considered an aggravating factor because it potentially makes the prosecution’s job more difficult. Law enforcement and prosecutors would prefer that you cooperate and provide evidence against yourself.
What Errors In Police Procedures During The Investigation And Arrest Will My Tacoma DUI Attorney Look For That Could Help My Case?
Just like civilians are bound by laws, so are law enforcement officers. Your DUI Attorney will investigate whether the police followed proper procedures during the arrest and after.
Your DUI Attorney should look at three phases of the procedure:
The police need to have a legal basis upon which to interfere with your freedom or privacy.
Did law enforcement have good grounds or a legal basis to stop your car? Police can’t just pull you over for no reason. They have to have a basis to believe you committed a traffic violation or may be under the influence.
Why did the officer believe he/she had grounds to place you under arrest? Why did he/she believe you committed the crime of DUI? This can be somewhat subjective based upon their training or experience. Usually, this requires analysis of their administration of standardized field sobriety testing (FSTs), or what you might call the roadside Olympics.
This is regarding the time back at the police station, which includes the administration of a breath test or drawing of blood. A DUI Attorney will investigate whether the officer is properly trained to administer said tests and use the equipment. Another note of importance is if they read important rights to individuals – generally, the implied consent warnings and your Miranda warnings.
What Are The Penalties For A DUI Conviction In Washington?
A DUI is considered a gross misdemeanor which could carry a maximum of 364 days in jail and up to $5,000 in fines. Those are considered maximums, and judge cannot go beyond those. There are also minimum penalties that a judge must impose if you’re found guilty of DUI. These penalties increase if you’re facing a second, third or multiple DUIs. If you’re facing a first time DUI, you will receive a minimum one day in jail and a fine of about $1,000. If the DUI has any aggravating factors, such as refusal to take a breath test or a test that is over two times the legal limit, then you would then face a minimum of two days in jail and an over $1,200 fine.
Is It Possible To Win My Tacoma DUI Case?
Yes, you can win a DUI. It’s not that easy, but a DUI can be won. You can get a dismissal of DUI for legal errors or procedural errors. You can also prevail at trial by being found not guilty or otherwise acquitted of DUI.
You can also define a win of DUI by getting a reduction of charges. Some DUIs can be amended down to either a reckless driving or perhaps a negligent driving. A DUI charge that is reduced or amended down can mean lesser classification of a crime, no jail time, and a reduction in fines. Often a DUI charge can carry scary consequences, and perhaps the allegations and evidence do not look good, you may want to be proactive in addressing the issue and a reduction can be a great solution to a DUI.
If I Plan On Pleading Guilty To A DUI Charge In Tacoma, Do I Still Need A DUI Attorney?
As the saying goes, a person who represents himself in court has a fool for a lawyer. Can you be your own attorney? Yes. But is it wise? No. A DUI lawyer will help ensure you get the best possible outcome in your case.
For more information on DUI Charges In The State Of Washington, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (253) 222-4878 today.