If you have been arrested for an alcohol-related driving offense, you need an aggressive and experienced criminal defense attorney. We have handled countless jury and non-jury trials in area courts, and we know how to get results.
All states have strict DUI laws and Washington is no exception. First offenders are treated very harshly; A person could face jail time, fines, and possibly a loss of their driving rights for a mandatory amount of time. Drivers need to remember that a DUI charge applies to not only alcohol but also to drugs. Over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs and illegal drugs which impair your driving could also result in DUI charges. Anyone who is arrested and facing DUI charges should contact a criminal defense attorney with experience handling DUI matters in Washington.
A Serious Criminal Offense
Police and prosecutors are aggressive about catching and punishing DUI offenders, and Washington has some of the most extreme mandatory penalties in the nation. If you are convicted of either misdemeanor or felony-level DUI, the consequences you face are severe. They include time in jail, electronic monitoring, heavy fines, alcohol evaluation and treatment, the suspension of your license, and a period of probation are all likely results of a DUI conviction. If you have prior DUI offenses on your record, the mandatory-minimum penalties are significantly increased. Vehicular homicide carries a mandatory prison term and vehicular assault has a harsh mandatory-minimum sentence. You cannot afford mistakes in your defense against drinking and driving charges.
If police have not followed proper procedures, or if any evidence was not gathered or handled appropriately, we have the experience and tenacity to find out. We attack these cases from every angle.
BAC Levels and DUI Arrests
When you are stopped for a DUI, many times you will be asked to submit to blood alcohol test. The level of alcohol (BAC) in your blood will determine what charges you will be facing. Commercial vehicle operators must have a blood alcohol level of less than .04 or they will face charges, drivers under the age of 21 must have BAC of less than .02 and all other drivers must have levels of less than .08. Any amount higher will result in charges of DUI. The testing for drugs is a bit more complex and is based on THC levels which is found in marijuana and other drugs. It is possible that even if your blood alcohol is below the above mentioned amounts that you could be charged with a DUI if the officer believes that you were driving while impaired.
Washington and Implied Consent
When a driver is issued a license in Washington, according to the Revised Code of Washington, they have given consent to submit to chemical tests if stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence. Refusing to submit to such tests is serious; in fact they are the same as if you submitted to a test and your blood alcohol level registered at .15 or higher. The possible penalties are:
- Mandatory jail time– two full days in jail
- Minimum monetary penalties– fine of $500 plus costs and assessments
- Suspended license– two-year revocation for license (versus one if you submitted to the test)
- Interlocking ignition device– one year required after your license is restored
These penalties also assume you have not had a conviction for DUI in the last seven years which is the standard “look-back period” in Washington.
Understanding the Ignition Interlocking Device License
Drivers who have had their license suspended for a DUI or a drug offense may be eligible to drive if they agree to have an Ignition Interlock Driver’s License (IIL). This license allows you to drive but you must meet certain eligibility requirements which include:
- You must be a resident of Washington and your license cannot be expired
- You have been arrested or convicted of DUI involving alcohol or drugs
- You have been found guilty of reckless driving charges
- You were involved in a vehicular assault or homicide involving alcohol or drugs
- Your suspension or revocation was not because you were a minor
- Your suspension or revocation was not because you were classified a habitual offender
There are charges for the installation of these units and there may also be a monthly fee for leasing the device as well.
DUI Enhancements: Additional Charges
There are certain circumstances which could result in additional criminal charges, fines or longer lengths of suspension of your license. Some of these circumstances include:
- Vehicle occupants– anytime a child is in the car, additional charges or penalties may be added
- Commercial drivers– operators of commercial vehicles who were driving said vehicle at the time of their arrest will face additional penalties and charges
- Age of arrestee– defendants under the age of 21 will suffer a longer suspension of driving rights
- Damage or injury– if there was property damage or bodily injury involved there will be additional charges, fines and penalties
Driver’s License and DUI Charges
The Washington Department of Licensing (DOL) has two separate penalties for DUI. The first occurs when you are arrested. You have 20 days from the date of your arrest to apply for a hearing and should you fail to do this, you will automatically lose your license for 90 days to two years from the date of your arrest. Generally, the arresting officer will supply you with a hearing form or the DOL will mail you one. It is imperative that you have representation at this hearing; an attorney can fight for your right to keep your license.
This hearing has nothing to do with the criminal charges of DUI you are facing and if you are ultimately convicted, there will be additional suspension time. The suspension time will depend on whether you have had any prior DUI offenses and how serious the incident was that resulted in a DUI charge. The length of the suspension will range from 90 days to four years. This suspension will begin 45 days after the DOL has been notified by the court of a conviction. If the DOL found against you in the original hearing after your arrest, you would be credited for any loss of license you had lodged against you. No hearings are allowed after a conviction; however, a review of the accuracy of the court record could be reviewed by the DOL.
Convicted of DUI: Understanding the Consequences
After you are arrested, you may have to attend a trial to determine whether you are guilty of driving under the influence: this is a right of all defendant’s charged with a DUI. Your criminal defense attorney will help you determine whether you should ask for a jury trial or accept a “bench” trial which is held by a judge only. In addition to a life-long criminal record and the requirement of an ignition interlocking device, you could be facing the following sentences and penalties:
- First Offense– you could face jail time of up to one year (with a minimum of one day), fines of up to $5,000 and your license could be suspended for up to one year.
- Second Offense– you will face a minimum jail sentence of 30 days and may face up to one years’ jail time. Fines can be as much as $5,000 and your license suspension could be as long as 900 days.
- Third Offense– minimum jail time of 90 days or up to one year accompanied by fines of $5,000. In the event of a third conviction, your license could be suspended for three to four years.
It is important to remember that Washington’s look back period on DUI charges is seven years. That means anytime you are arrested and convicted of a DUI, the DOL will review your driving record for prior convictions.
Contact the Experienced DUI Lawyers at Twyford Law Office
DUI charges are serious and you should seek immediate assistance from a competent criminal defense attorney if you are facing these charges. In most cases, it is best to contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options. Contact Twyford Law Office at (855) 980-0678 if you have been arrested for a DUI charge; we will work hard to protect your rights and provide zealous advocacy.