DUI or "driving under the influence" in Washington state is an offense that applies when a person operates a motor vehicle while "under the influence" of alcohol and/or any drug. A "physical control" charge applies if a person is in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or any drug. Physical Control is similar to a DUI and carries similar penalties. When we refer here to "DUI," the information is generally going to be the same if the charge is physical control.
The DUI statute is codified at RCW 46.61.502:
(1) A person is guilty of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana, or any drug if the person drives a vehicle within this state;
(a) And the person has, within 2 hours after driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher as shown by analysis of the person's breath or blood made under RCW 46.61.506; or
(b) The person has, within 2 hours after driving, a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher as shown by analysis of the person's blood made under RCW 46.61.506; or
(c) While the person is under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor, marijuana, or any drug; or
(d) While the person is under the combined influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor, marijuana, and any drug.
At Callahan Law, P.S., Inc., every client's case is thoroughly investigated and the evidence scrutinized for defenses that might lead to the case being dismissed or reduced to a charge less serious than a DUI.
If you are arrested for a DUI in the state of Washington, and refuse the breath test, or take the test and blow over 0.08, or a blood analysis results in a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or above, or a THC (marijuana) concentration of 5 ng or above, the Washington DOL is required to suspend (less than 1 year) or revoke (1 year or longer) your driver's license administratively.
If you are 21 or older (limits differ for those younger and for commercial drivers) DOL will suspend your license if:
If either of these instances occurred, your license will be administratively suspended or revoked automatically (on the 60th day following your arrest) if you do not request an administrative hearing to contest the suspension or revocation. The length of an administrative suspension for an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or above, or for 5 ng or higher of THC, is 90 days. Refusing to take a breath test will result in year-long administrative revocation. However, a second or subsequent incident with a refusal or a breath or blood result of 0.08 or higher within 7 years, will cause a 2-year administrative license revocation.
Keep in mind, the revocation period for those who refuse is always longer than for those who agree to breath testing. This administrative license suspension or revocation is completely separate from the criminal charge you may face.
Washington has some of the toughest DUI laws in our nation. These laws carry increasingly severe penalties for those who drink and drive. Washington lowered the BAC limit from .10 to 0.08 in January of 1999. Drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) at .08 or above can now be convicted for driving under the influence of alcohol. In addition, because public sentiment is so very negative toward drunk drivers, prosecutors will often pursue a DUI conviction even when the driver's test result is well under .08! This is possible because they can obtain a conviction if they can show the person drove while "affected by" alcohol, and / or marijuana or any drug, including prescription or over-the-counter medications.
Gone are the days when people could talk their way out of a DUI arrest and be let go because they were only a few blocks from home. People are arrested and prosecuted for drunk driving in their own driveway. Washington is serious about punishing people who drink any amount of alcohol and then drive. Even though it is not defined as a crime in our laws, you can be arrested and prosecuted if you consume even a small amount of alcohol, then drive. The prosecution does not necessarily need to prove that the person gave a breath or blood sample above the legal limit; they only need to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person's driving was affected by an impairing substance.
Law enforcement officers in most agencies in Washington have the goal of pulling over three cars per hour. The primary purpose of this goal is to locate and arrest drivers who have been drinking. They will stop a vehicle for the slightest driving irregularity or minor equipment violation. Once they smell the odor of alcohol, an arrest is imminent, whether or not the driver performs the voluntary field sobriety tests. The officer has the power to search the vehicle upon arrest and, except sometimes in the case of a commercial or farm transport vehicle, must impound the vehicle, causing the driver to pay towing and impound fees to get their vehicle back.
DUI laws and the courts' decisions regarding them are always evolving. If you need a lawyer who creatively challenges the evidence against you, who understands the science and technology of breath and blood testing, and who has the experience to notice mistakes made by the police and prosecutors in DUI prosecutions, you need Callahan Law, P.S., Inc. We tackle tough issues for our clients every day, so don't hesitate to schedule a free initial case appointment. We serve clients from our offices in Seattle, Tacoma, and Shelton.
Please call us today for the client-focused legal representation you need and deserve.