Driving Under the Influence of Drugs Penalties
The penalties for a Driving Under the Influence of Drugs conviction are the same as those for an alcohol DUI, except that there is no enhanced penalty based on a high quantity of the substance in the driver’s blood as there is for an alcohol DUI.
The penalties may include:
- Mandatory minimum and maximum jail term
- A fine plus cost and assessments, including probation fees
- An ignition interlock restriction (even though the device detects only alcohol, not drugs)
- A license suspension or revocation
- A chemical dependency assessment
- Treatment if diagnosed with chemical dependency
The severity of the penalty depends upon the number of prior offenses (DUI, Physical Control, or lesser charge originally charged as a DUI or Physical Control) committed within 7 years. A person may also be convicted of a drug-DUI with an allegation that he or she refused blood testing. In this event, the mandatory minimum penalties are harsher than if the person submitted to the blood test.
How Is a DUI-Drugs Case Prosecuted?
It is a crime in the state of Washington to drive under the influence of any drug, whether the drug is prescribed, illegal, or over-the-counter, as long as the person’s driving was affected to “any appreciable degree” by a drug, a combination of drugs, or a combination of drugs and alcohol. Usually, there must be proof of impaired driving or perhaps an accident, involving a driver suspected of having consumed drugs before driving. The law enforcement officer must obtain a search warrant, authorized by a judge in order to obtain a blood sample from the driver. A law enforcement Drug Recognition Evaluator (DRE) may be called upon to administer various sobriety tests to gather evidence of drug intoxication.
At a DUI-drug trial, the officer may testify about his or her observations of:
- Impaired driving (or accident investigation)
- Signs of drug intoxication observed in the driver
- Signs of drug intoxication after a DRE evaluation
- The driver’s admission of having consumed any drug(s)
- The results of any blood analysis
Call (206) 866-6739 to discuss your case during a complimentary initial consultation.
How is a Drugged-DUI Case Defended?
A knowledgeable DUI-drug trial lawyer may move to have evidence excluded (meaning it cannot be used at trial by the prosecutor). The judge may exclude evidence for a number of reasons, such as if the rules of evidence require exclusion, or if there was a violation of a constitutional or statutory right in obtaining the evidence. If the evidence is allowed by the judge, a talented DUI-Drug trial lawyer will know how to minimize the impact of the evidence and how to show the evidence lacks reliability or accuracy, or is of questionable evidentiary value.
Accused? Our Washington DUI Lawyers Can Help.
Our Washington Drug-DUI lawyers know these cases inside and out. We have extensive training on blood testing methods and shortcomings. Attorney Linda M. Callahan teaches other lawyers how to defend these difficult cases, and has written chapters on blood testing, DRE evaluations and defending drug-DUI cases in her highly acclaimed legal book, the Washington DUI Practice Manual. Contact our office today to speak with a DUI lawyer in Tacoma, Shelton, or Seattle, WA.