Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or “DUI,” is a serious offense in Washington. Understanding the elements that the state must prove in a DUI case is critical to planning your defense, and an experienced Washington DUI lawyer who knows the state’s DUI laws can help. We will carefully review the state’s case against you and create a strategy to challenge the prosecutors’ evidence and minimize the impact the case will have on your life and livelihood.
What Is the Legal Limit for Alcohol?
According to state law, a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher, within two hours of driving, meets the definition of “driving under the influence.” BAC is a measurement of the amount of alcohol present in your bloodstream, as measured by a blood or breath test. BAC increases as a person continues drinking, and gradually decreases as the body metabolizes the alcohol.
Evidence of BAC over the legal limit is not required to convict a person of DUI, however, as state law only requires that a person be impaired by drugs or alcohol. Without BAC test results, or even with a BAC below the legal limit, prosecutors can use other evidence, such as witness testimony regarding unsafe driving.
Do I Have to Do a Breath or Blood Test?
You are not required to submit to a breath test or a field sobriety test, as the U.S. Constitution protects you from offering evidence against yourself. If you refuse such a test when requested by a police officer, however, the officer may arrest you and seek a warrant to perform a breath or blood test. Because of the way the body breaks down alcohol over time, police treat this sort of issue with urgency. Some law enforcement officers around the country have asserted a need to draw blood from a DUI suspect without a warrant, but the U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether this is permissible.
Will I Lose My License?
The state has the authority to suspend your driver’s license, even if you are not convicted of DUI. You may be required to purchase insurance, known as SR-22 insurance, as a condition of reinstating your license. A court may also order you to purchase an ignition interlock device, which contains a breath analyzer that prevents the car from starting if it detects alcohol above 0.025 percent.
What Is the Worst Possible Penalty for a DUI?
Most DUI offenses in Washington are prosecuted as gross misdemeanors, with a maximum possible jail sentence of one year and a maximum fine of $1,000. If you have prior DUI convictions, however, state law gradually increases the minimum possible penalty. If you have four prior DUI convictions, it is prosecuted as a class C felony, which carries up to five years’ imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
If you have been charged with a DUI, you need the assistance of an attorney with knowledge of Washington’s legal system. Washington DUI attorney Timothy L. Healy has represented defendants charged with alleged DUI offenses in Tacoma, Pierce County, and elsewhere in Washington state for more than fifteen years. We have helped our clients obtain plea agreements, reduced sentences, dismissals, and acquittals. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a member of our team, contact us today online or at (888) 312-3093.