DUI Sentencing

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Washington DUI Stats

Preventing motorists from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs remains a daunting challenge for state law enforcement. DUI fatalities in Washington State reached a six-year high in 2015, with 258.

This is despite Washington ranking among the toughest states on driving under the influence (DUI), according to a 2017 study by WalletHub. By using criteria measuring criminal penalties and prevention, WalletHub ranked Washington 15th among the 50 states plus District of Columbia.

DUI sentencing in Washington state

Sentencing guidelines for DUI are split into two tiers, based on the severity of the infraction. Drivers who have a blood alcohol (BAC) level of at least .15 face longer mandatory jail stays, higher fines and longer license suspension than those between .08 and .14. Drivers who refuse to take a breath test are treated the same as those with a .15 BAC.

The mandatory minimum punishments for .08-.14 BAC, first offense, include:

  • Jail time: 24 hours
  • Fine: $990.50
  • License suspension: 90 days

The mandatory minimum punishments for .15 and above BAC, first offense, include:

  • Jail time: 48 hours
  • Fine: $1,245.50
  • License suspension: 1 year

Sentences become continually harsher for second and then third offenses within a seven-year period. All drivers will spend at least 30 days in jail for a second offense and 90 days for a third. Three convictions in a 10-year period is a Class B felony.

In addition, all these penalties are further strengthened if the driver had a passenger 16 or younger at the time of arrest. For example, a person convicted of a first offense with a BAC between .08-14 can get an additional 24 hours in jail and six more months of license suspension, as well as a heftier fine, if there was a minor in the car.

Washington requires all drivers convicted of DUI to have an ignition interlock device placed on their car for at least one year after their license suspension ends — and pay $20 per month for the privilege. An ignition interlock device (IID) does not allow the car to start until the driver blows into the device to confirm they have not been drinking. Having a minor in the car increases the IID period for an additional six months.

Washington is one of 25 states that requires the IID for every conviction. The requirement and the length of its application are harsher than most, and are two reasons Washington landed 15th in the WalletHub rankings.

Vehicular assault and homicide

Driving under the influence also factors into conviction and sentencing for vehicular homicide and vehicular assault. A person is guilty of either if they operate a vehicle recklessly or under the influence. Vehicular homicide is a Class A felony in Washington State; vehicular assault is a Class B felony.

Deferred prosecution

Deferred prosecution for DUI is offered if alcoholism is considered the reason for committing the crime. In these cases, charges can be dismissed after two years if a person completes a stringent program that includes total abstinence from alcohol and “non-prescribed mind altering drugs,” a rehab program, ongoing self-help recovery and more. Pursuing deferred prosecution is not an option for everyone and should be examined on a case-by-case basis.

Injured by a Drunk Driver

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What if I am injured by a drunk driver?

If you are struck by a drunk driver in Washington State, your odds of being killed or seriously injured are higher than in any other type of auto collision. There were 6,033 accidents attributed to the influence of alcohol and drugs in 2015, according to data from the Washington Department of Transportation, with 237 fatalities and 299 serious injuries.

When medical bills and repair bills mount as the result of the actions of a drunk driver, it’s helpful to understand the path toward financial recovery through insurance claims and, potentially, lawsuits.

Accident responsibility

Washington is a pure comparative negligence state when it comes to assigning legal responsibility for accidents of any kind. In pure comparative negligence, the party who is responsible for the accident is also responsible for compensating victims for their damages. However, it’s not necessarily an all-or-nothing proposition. Each party may be considered to have a percentage of responsibility for an accident, and the awards are weighted accordingly.

For example, if a victim suffers $20,000 of damage in an accident, they may pursue that amount in a claim But if they are determined to have 10 percent of the responsibility for the accident, that $20,000 award will be reduced by 10 percent, or $2,000.

The insurance company of the responsible party might pursue a quick settlement, or seek to have you sign a liability release. Most likely it’s best to move slowly and not accept either one. Injuries can linger and their full impact could not be felt for months. Signing a release and accepting a settlement could leave you paying for those medical expenses down the road.

Unique to drunk driving

Drunk driving accidents do have a couple of legal characteristics that separate it from a standard auto collision.

First, DUI-related accidents have criminal proceedings attached for the drunk driver, separate from any insurance claim or civil action. For those pursuing legal action against a person who caused a drunk driving accident, this is another reason it’s often best wait and to allow the criminal case to conclude first. The defendant would have the DUI conviction on their record, which might weaken their standing in the eyes of a judge or jury for the civil case.

Also unique is the factor of dram shop liability. A “dram shop” is a term for an establishment where liquor is sold. Washington law allows a victims to sue an establishment that serves alcohol to someone who then causes a drunk driving accident,vin one of two cases:

Social host liability is related to dram shop liability, except that it applies primarily to private hosts rather than to a bar or tavern. In addition, the host can only be held responsible for a drunk driving accident if the driver determined to be at fault is a minor.

Dram shop liability and social host liability are especially useful to plaintiffs in cases where a drunk driver does not actually have insurance. Though drivers are legally required to have auto insurance, it’s estimated more than 17 percent of Washington drivers do not. This ranks seventh-most among the 50 states and District of Columbia.

Some drivers will keep between $10,000 and $35,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) that pays out no matter who is at fault. In many cases, however, the property damage and medical costs go well beyond that amount. If the responsible driver is uninsured, the dram shop liability might be the only recourse for compensation.

It should be noted that Washington does not put caps on damage awards in personal injury lawsuits, as state courts have ruled them unconstitutional.

 

Power of Story Telling

 

Sponsoring Stevens Elementary School  

Twyford Law Office is pleased to announce its dedication to Inland Northwest communities in the Magic of Storytelling campaign. Powered by ABC and Disney, we will present books to Title I schools, benefiting literacy programs across many counties. The children come first, and we’re pleased to offer the chance of change.

Adoption and Sponsorship

By offering books in 500-copy increments, Twyford Law Office will “adopt” these schools, sponsoring them while presenting the gift of fiction. By granting kids the opportunity to read, Twyford’s sponsorship will promote local literacy, education and a higher degree of social understanding. Magic of Storytelling is imbued by creativity. Inspiring stories, when presented to the community, can create the minds, hearts and innovation of tomorrow.

Disney and the Power of Storytelling

Disney has already donated millions of books to children in need, assisting them with reading, story creation and creativity. Great stories alter entire lives, bringing children to faraway lands, unheard-of journeys and bright futures. Together, Disney and ABC have parented Twyford Law Office—delivering numerous campaign activities while promoting storytelling in its purest form.

For 16 years, Disney and First Book have helped kids read, learn and succeed. Their partnership with ABC—spawning the Magic of Storytelling campaign—has reached communities in unprecedented ways. Eligible books purchased by consumers in Disney Store locations, or at other participating retail outlets during Disney Reads Day, in the past, resulted in direct donations up to one million books. The Magic of Storytelling campaign has expanded, reaching many communities, local providers and—of course—Twyford Law Office.

 Our Goal and Community

The Inland Northwest is deserving of creativity, and we’re proud to partner with local businesses, community groups and families to promote reading. Children will be sent home with books which may be ordinarily inaccessible. Twyford’s sponsorship makes this donation possible, as do its television spots between February and March.

By promoting the community responsible for our success, Twyford Law Office can inform it about childhood literacy. Today, literacy in children is an incredibly important topic. Twyford Law Office intends to benefit bright minds, bright futures and bright career paths. Reading is a vital cornerstone of childhood development, and our representation enables these healthy environments.

Our Promise to the Children

Twyford Law Office is well-known for simplifying the legal process, talking to clients at a human level. For this reason, much of our support is dedicated to empowering the community at large. We’re constantly fighting for your best interest, discussing services, educational options and future goals to fortify the community as a whole. We feel education should be embraced with open arms. Unfortunately, today’s children may be intimidated by reading—pushing away important education.

We’re making a promise to our schools, its children and its parents: Education can happen via the world of fiction. Every book provided through Disney and ABC’s parent program is geared towards the intellectual and emotional growth of your children. Twyford Law Office is a friend to education, inspiration and childhood development. We feel community involvement works best in partnership. By offering services hand-in-hand with local businesses, we can succeed in creating an environment—not a simple program.

Twyford Law Office and the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce

Our involved individuals are ready to make a change, reaching out to the community through social media, local movements and in-school programs. The Twyford Law Office is a member of the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce, impacting the community from the ground level. On every level, we promote proactive goals to assist our community. The Spokane Valley area’s business leaders operate in a tight-knit organization, so as to promote future growth at an educational level.

View the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce’s page here, and get involved with the economic and educational prosperity of your area. The region’s business leaders, teachers, parents and organizational influencers are here to help. ABC and Disney, meanwhile, promise to continue benefiting Twyford Law Office’s cause—empowering young minds for the near future.

Greater Spokane Chamber of Commerce Members

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Member of the Greater Spokane Chamber of Commerce

The Twyford Law Office is proud to announce its membership in the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce.  Membership offers an opportunity for the firm to become more deeply involved in the community whose members it has represented for many years.

A Proud History and Proactive Goals

The City of Spokane and the surrounding Spokane Valley have a rich heritage.  From the Native American tribe known as the Spokanes comes the name Spokane, which means Children of the Sun.  At the time of its incorporation in 1881, the town took up just 1.56 square miles.  As of 2014, the city itself had grown to an area of 57.8 square miles and 212,052 residents.

For nearly a century, the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce has focused on serving the city and the surrounding region.  As the Spokane Valley area developed, business leaders realized there was a need for an organization that would represent area business interests.  On May 25, 1921, they founded the Chamber in Greenacres.

From the Chamber’s inception, its mission has been to serve business concerns, to improve the vitality of the community, and to fuel economic prosperity for the Greater Spokane Valley.  The Chamber believes the key to realizing its mission is building an agenda that is both inclusive and collaborative with the community.  Thanks to community participation, the BIG 5 project has identified five measurable goals to draw businesses and industries to the Spokane Valley:

  • Greater Outdoors promotes and protects the area’s outdoor vitality.
  • Greater Goods showcases the area as an emerging high-tech leader in manufacturing.
  • Greater Learning integrates education and business to form the future workforce.
  • Greater Cures fosters medical research from the conceptual stage to the cure.
  • Greater Vision builds an enterprising identity for the region.

The Chamber also has an active legislative program to support the BIG 5.  It includes six activities to enhance the competitiveness of the area’s business climate, plus community projects and educational initiatives.

A Valued Membership

Membership in the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce means a great deal to the Twyford Law Office.  It offers one more important endorsement to the firm’s already outstanding reputation and provides additional recognition of its unique expertise and devotion to the clients it represents.

Chamber membership offers the opportunity to reach goals for business growth by networking and collaborating with other local leaders.  Members enjoy sharing insights on business challenges common to many of them.  Membership is also an excellent way for the Twyford Law Office to get a pulse on public opinion and to reach out to the Spokane Valley community by becoming a Chamber sponsor.

Julia A. Twyford has been representing area clients for more than three decades.  She is a dedicated and successful defense attorney for clients with Spokane personal injury, criminal law, or family law cases.  A graduate of the Gonzaga University School of Law, Ms. Twyford is a distinguished member of the Federal, Washington State, and Spokane County Bar Associations, as well as a founder of Spokane Attorneys for Equality.  Throughout Washington courtrooms, the Twyford Law Office is well known as an advocate willing to fight for its clients.