Washington laws are unforgiving for those who operate a vehicle after drinking. If you are facing a DUI in Washington it is likely the first time you’ve ever been arrested. Being handcuffed and driven to the city jail is not for the timid, though every year thousands of Washington residents with no prior record get to experience the humiliation and fear it brings. A DUI has a way of bringing doctors, teachers, clerks, truck drivers and housewives with no criminal history together that no other legal offense does: It can suddenly make all of them criminals if they are convicted. You should take your DUI seriously, as it is no longer just a traffic violation. You can face jail time, loss of your license and thousands of dollars in fines.
There are two ways you can be arrested in Washington for a DUI. The first is if you have a BAC (breath alcohol content) of .08 or larger while operating a vehicle. This standard ignores all other facts including your judged ability to drive safely. The second way you can be arrested is if the officer merely has reason to believe you are driving under the influence. You may be observed weaving between lanes, braking erratically, driving with headlights off, driving with blinkers on, or slow acceleration at intersections.
After your arrest, you’ll be presented with two different legal cases, one in criminal court which determines jail time, fines, punitive treatment programs. The other is an administrative case which controls your driver’s license, its suspension and reinstatement. The two cases are not connected and will be prosecuted simultaneously. Since your license will be confiscated immediately upon arrest, and a suspension will be imminent, you will have 20 days to contest or request a hearing regarding your suspension. This application for a hearing will cost $200, which can be mailed in, or paid online with a credit card.
If your case will be heard by the Seattle court, you will be required to appear within 48 hours after the next business day. It is highly recommended that you contact a local DUI attorney who is familiar with the local courts and their procedures.
The good thing is that you have options regarding your Washington DUI. Because DUI laws have become so strict and so complicated in recent years, the defense of DUI has become a specialized legal field practiced by a select group. A breathalyzer test, for instance, can display a false reading for such unusual things as chewing gum or Wonder bread. A qualified local DUI attorney will know how to defend against a breathalyzer and other evidence, and can help you with your case and defend your rights. It is very important that you contact a local DUI attorney right away for a free consultation regarding your case. You can get your questions answered and gain some peace of mind at this stressful time.
If you are arrested outside your home state, be sure to ask your attorney how this law will impact you.
The penalties listed below are called for by statute, are not complete, and can often be removed or reduced significantly with the assistance of a local Washington DUI attorney.
FIRST OFFENSE CONVICTION
• Incarceration – mandatory 1 day to 1 year jail time
• Fines – minimum $865.50 to $5,000
• License Suspension – 90 day suspension
• Limited License Application – allowed after mandatory suspension served
• Ignition Interlock – up to one year, on all household vehicles.
• Alcohol & Drug – as ordered by the court, DUI School and/or Alcohol Treatment Program
• Probation – at court’s discretion
• Community Service – at court’s discretion
ADDITIONAL COSTS AND CONSEQUENCES
• Bail – Amount set by the court, required before being released after being arrested
• Towing – Average towing rates are $75 to $100 with additional fees for each day the vehicle is impounded
• Insurance – Required to carry high risk SR22 insurance for three years. Insurance companies will raise rates significantly for high risk drivers.
• Record – A DUI conviction will remain on driving record permanently
• Employment – Offender may lose time off work and possibly even their job.
Additional offenses and considerations will bring significantly higher penalties including jail and fines. Don’t take a chance with your freedom. It is highly recommended that you contact a qualified DUI attorney right away for a FREE CONSULTATION on your case. It is possible your case CAN be won with the right representation.