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What You Should Know About DUI Charges In Washington

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by Jordan Foster

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09.30.2023

In this article, you will learn…

  • What to do after you’ve been arrested for a DUI,
  • Why it isn’t recommended to deny a breath test or field sobriety test, and
  • What can cause a DUI charge to go from a gross misdemeanor to a felony.

What Is The First Thing I Should Do After A DUI Arrest?

The first thing you should do after a DUI arrest is consult with an attorney. Most attorneys will offer a free consultation.

While it might be your first instinct to seek advice from a friend or the internet, it’s highly recommended that you seek counsel from an experienced attorney as soon as possible. A friend’s advice may be limited based on their experience and the internet could turn up results that don’t take into consideration the specific facts of your situation.

It’s important to keep in mind that laws vary from state to state and are subject to change. If you aren’t getting the most recent information for your state, you’re being put at a disadvantage to defend yourself against DUI charges.

A free consultation with a DUI lawyer will be able to talk to you about…

  • Cost,
  • What to do next,
  • What to look out for, and
  • What’s going to take place.

Why Is The Time Right After An Arrest Crucial?

The time right after an arrest is crucial because you often don’t have much time in which to respond. For the Department of Licensing in Washington state, you only have seven days from the date of arrest to decide whether or not you’re going to contest the suspension or revocation of your driving privileges.

If you don’t request a contested hearing within 7 days, you’re going to end up with a suspension or revocation. There will be nothing you can do about it at that point in time. So, sitting down with an attorney right away and making that decision is imperative to trying to protect your rights and your right and privilege to drive.

Is It Illegal To Refuse A Breath Test Or A Field Sobriety Test?

You’re not required to take a breath test or perform the field sobriety test.

However, if you do refuse either of these tests, there are consequences. A refusal of either test may result in…

  • A one-year revocation of your driver’s license, and
  • The refusal being used against you in court – typically, as an admission of guilt.

So, even though the breath test and field sobriety test are voluntary, the prosecutors can use your refusal against you by saying you refused the test because you were guilty of driving under the influence.

Is A DUI Conviction Eligible For Probation In Washington State?

In Washington state, any criminal charge is required to be under some form of supervision. It’s not necessarily probation, but some kind of supervision.

Sometimes they do a bench supervision period. This is where the judge can monitor your behavior following a conviction for up to five years. The typical period for bench supervision is two years. The judge can…

  • Check your file to make sure you don’t have any criminal law violations, and
  • Check with your treatment provider if you are ordered to undergo an alcohol evaluation or drug assessment.

If you’re under a treatment or sobriety program and there’s any violation, they can call you back into court to see what’s going on.

There’s not necessarily a probation officer assigned to you, but it could be a judge. There are, of course, some courts, counties, or municipalities that will assign a probation officer that oversees your supervision period.

Are There Benefits To Pleading No Contest To A DUI Charge?

Washington doesn’t really have a plea of no contest. Washington does have or allow an Alford plea, which is where you can claim you’re not admitting guilt but you do acknowledge that the evidence against you is overwhelming. In this way, you can plead guilty to a criminal charge while still maintaining your innocence.

At the initial hearing or arraignment, you’re going to want to enter a plea of not guilty. You have rights and you want to ensure that your rights and defenses are protected before making any decision.

What Would Cause A DUI To Become A Felony Charge In Washington State?

In Washington State, a DUI can become a felony charge if you have a criminal history that includes prior convictions for DUI charges or vehicular assault. Otherwise, a DUI is typically going to be considered a gross misdemeanor.

For more information on the Aftermath Of A DUI Arrest In Washington, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (253) 222-4878 today.

About the Author

Jordan Foster

Jordan Foster's law practice focuses primarily on criminal defense. He helps people facing misdemeanors, felonies, and traffic infractions. A significant portion of his practice involves DUI/DWI Defense, Assaults, Malicious Mischief, Theft, Drug Possession, Burglary, Identity Theft, Domestic Violence DV, Harassment, Traffic Tickets.

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