My name is Jordan Foster. Born and raised in Tacoma, I have called Washington state home my entire life. I began practicing law in 2004, and my practice focuses on assisting people in DUI and other criminal defense matters.
I chose to focus my legal practice on these matters because so many people have incredibly pressing questions when it comes to their rights under criminal law. It’s my goal to provide an understanding of what takes place after a DUI arrest and educate you on the process ahead.
DUI charges can be scary – many people who are arrested for a DUI feel lost and hopeless. Therefore, the majority of my initial work with clients is geared to provide a walkthrough of the criminal law process and give a sketch of the civil side of DUI matters (such as how to proceed when dealing with the Department of Licensing).
Aside from legal representation, the most important thing you can have when facing a DUI charge is information about the process. If you are able to fill in the blanks and know what to expect, it’s much easier to stay calm and informed. My goal is that you will walk away from this book feeling informed and having gained a little reassurance that things are going to be okay.
DUI In Washington State
DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence. While DUI is commonly understood to reference Driving Under the Influence of alcohol, a DUI charge can apply to intoxication by a range of substances.
In Washington, the most common DUI charges deal with intoxication via alcohol or marijuana.
Typically, DUIs are “per se” violations: when one’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is over the legal limit – 0.08. However, there are many kinds of alcohol-related DUI charges, including charges where it’s unnecessary to show a BAC of 0.08 or higher.
For marijuana-related DUI charges, BAC isn’t a factor. Instead, a blood test is conducted to determine how much THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) is in a person’s bloodstream. If your THC reading is that of 5 nanograms or higher, you may be charged with DUI.
Common DUI Misconceptions
- “I haven’t heard from the courts, so I assume they dropped my case.”
One of the biggest misconceptions about a DUI is that most people assume that nothing may happen or the courts forgot about their case. An officer will often stop someone, make an arrest, and process them, only to release them afterwards.
Because of this, people don’t usually get an immediate court date or notice of hearing with the Department of Licensing (DOL). Unfortunately, the perceived lapse in legal action against them gives many people a false sense of ease.
Time and again, clients have come to my office saying something to the effect of, “I was arrested months ago. I never heard anything else about it, so I didn’t expect anything to happen.” Only to find out that state and city prosecutors were already processing their case.
So, what you have to know is this . . .
Typically speaking, law enforcement will create a police report about your case after your traffic stop or arrest. They will spend time collecting all the evidence and information about the traffic stop, your conversations, and any roadside tests that were conducted at the time of your arrest.
Later, they will send this report to a prosecutor’s office and the DOL. Sending the report to a prosecuting attorney begins the criminal law process, while sending the report to the DOL begins the civil process (which affects your right and privilege to drive).
Many people don’t know that you only have seven days from the date of your arrest to request an administrative hearing with the DOL. If you miss this opportunity, you could face a suspension or revocation of your driving privileges.
With regards to the criminal process, it can sometimes be months before you receive any notice of criminal charges from the court. When you do receive notice, it will be in the form of a summons that requests your appearance in court. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for people to forget about their DUI altogether and assume that the summons is in regards to a traffic ticket, or some other minor violation.
In reality, it takes the prosecutor’s office a long time to receive the facts of your case and make a determination of whether or not to file criminal charges. At which point, you will likely have forgotten any number of important details regarding your traffic stop and have lost out on the opportunity to request an administrative hearing to protect your license.
Instead of assuming that because you haven’t heard anything that nothing will happen – contact an attorney as soon as possible. A DUI lawyer can provide expert counsel, evaluate the facts of your case and take the proactive steps that are necessary to mitigate disciplinary actions against you in the future.
- “I’ve already been charged with DUI, so there’s no point in defending myself.”
So many people don’t take proper action to defend themselves against DUI charges because they don’t understand the severity of the consequences. There is a great misconception that you can treat a DUI charge similar to a traffic ticket. I’ve had countless clients who were under the impression that they would “pay a fine and move on.”
The reality is – Washington State has strict DUI laws and applies tough penalties as a result.
Some of the penalties associated with DUI in Washington may include:
- Jail Time
- Hefty Fines
- Community Service
- Required Alcohol/Substance Abuse Class Completion
- Electronic Sobriety Monitoring
- Ignition Interlock Device Installation
- And more…
While the punishment for DUI can be severe, there’s no need to let anxiety take hold. DUI cases can be overwhelming and complicated, but taking the right steps at the beginning of your case can prevent tremendous headaches in the future.
I find that the best approach in an initial meeting is to have a sit-down conversation with the client. I want you to be able to get a good sense of who I am as a person and how I work.
It’s also vital that my clients have a good understanding of what the road ahead will look like. This can include a picture of the realistic timeline of your case, an education of what the overall criminal and civil processes look like, as well as what is expected of defendants in court. After that, we can get into the specifics of your case and begin to discuss what our strategy may be moving forward.