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Worried? Our DUI Lawyers Have Answers

Facing a DUI anywhere in Washington is scary. But with Emerald City Law Group, you’re never alone. Our Seattle DUI attorneys can help navigate the system, secure driving privileges, avoid jail time, an ankle bracelet, or ignition interlock, and protect against the harshest penalties. With a strong defense tailored to your situation, you can secure the best possible outcome and move forward with your life.

From DUI dismissals to reducing penalties and keeping your license, contact Emerald City Law Group for an unmatched DUI defense.

Based in Seattle, We Assist People Across Washington and Offer Virtual Consultations. Initial Consults are Free, Confidential, and We’re Available 24/7 to Answer Your Questions.

Washington DUI Offenses We Handle

A mishandled DUI can lead to severe and long-lasting hardships, like jail time, ankle bracelet conditions, job loss, hefty fines, license suspension, ignition interlock requirements, and more. Having a knowledgeable attorney in your corner is crucial.

As an experienced DUI defense law firm, Emerald City Law Group can guide you through every aspect of any DUI-related charge.

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Washington DUIs: What You Need to Know

Every state has laws against driving while under the influence, and Washington’s Revised Code, Section 46.61.504 is no different. This law covers not just “driving” but being in “actual physical control” of a vehicle while intoxicated, meaning you can be charged even if you’re simply sitting in your car.

Learn More Seattle DUI Laws

Physical Control & The Elements of a DUI

The standard legal limit in Washington is a 0.08% BAC, but this drops to 0.02% for those under 21 and 0.04% for commercial drivers. Prosecutors must prove the key elements of drunk driving to secure a DUI conviction. Specifically, this means that you were driving or had actual control of the vehicle and were under the influence of or affected by alcohol or drugs. Also, you can be charged with DUI or Physical Control even if you were under the influence or affected by prescription drugs.

Being under the influence can be demonstrated in various ways, including observable signs of impairment or DUI breath or blood testing. The definition of DUI extends beyond merely driving. “Actual physical control” has been interpreted to mean that if you were positioned to operate the vehicle you can also be charged. Even being seated in your car without moving can lead to a Physical Control arrest.

Learn About Washington BAC Laws

Seattle DUI Penalties

Most DUIs are gross misdemeanors in Washington, punishable by fines and up to a year in jail. If you are charged with a fourth DUI within 10 years, you will be charged with a Class B felony.

BAC – < .15 or No Test

1st DUI within 7 Years
  • Jail Time – 24 Hours or 15 days EHM
  • Mandatory Electronic Home Monitoring (EHM) – Not Available
  • Fines – $990.50
  • License Penalty – 90 Day Suspension
  • Interlock Device– Required
  • Counseling/Treatment – As Ordered
Penalty – 1 Prior DUI within 7 Years
  • Jail Time – 30 Days
  • Mandatory Electronic Home Monitoring (EHM) – 60 Days
  • Fines – $1,245.50
  • License Penalty – 2 Year Revocation
  • Interlock Device – Required
  • Counseling/Treatment – As Ordered
Penalty – 2-3 DUIs within 7 Years
  • Jail Time – 90 Days
  • Mandatory Electronic Home Monitoring (EHM) – 120 Days
  • Fines– $2,095.50
  • License Penalty – 3 Year Revocation
  • Interlock Device – Required
  • Counseling/Treatment – As Ordered

BAC – ≥ .15 or Test Refusal

Penalty – 1st DUI within 7 Years
  • Jail Time – 2 Days or 30 days EHM
  • Mandatory Electronic Home Monitoring (EHM) – 30 Days
  • Fines – $1,245.50
  • License Penalty – 1 Year Revocation (2 if Refusal)
  • Interlock Device – Required
  • Counseling/Treatment – As Ordered
Penalty – 1 Prior DUI within 7 Years
  • Jail Time – 45 Days
  • Mandatory Electronic Home Monitoring (EHM) – 90 Days
  • Fines – $1,670.50
  • License Penalty – 900 Days (3 Years if Refusal)
  • Interlock Device – Required
  • Counseling/Treatment – As Ordered
Penalty – 2-3 DUIs within 7 Years
  • Jail Time – 120 Days
  • Mandatory Electronic Home Monitoring (EHM) – 150 Days
  • Fines – $2,945.50
  • License Penalty – 4 Year Revocation
  • Interlock Device – Required
  • Counseling/Treatment– As Ordered

What to expect in your DUI case depends on your record, BAC, and the details involved. Always consult with a local DUI attorney for a detailed assessment.

Your License after a Seattle DUI

When people are arrested for driving under the influence, one of their biggest concerns usually revolves around their ability to drive. After all, people typically need a license to get to work or school and care for their families.

When you’re arrested for a DUI in Washington, you face what is known as an administrative license suspension (ALS). This is a civil consequence of a DUI arrest, not a criminal punishment. Therefore, you must deal with your ALS independently from the criminal proceedings.

You Can Face ALS For:

  • Exceeding the legal BAC limit; or
  • Refusing a DUI breath test at the police station.

A first time DUI conviction with a BAC over the limit results in a 90-day license suspension. Being convicted of a first time DUI after refusing the breath test at the station results in a one-year license suspension. The DOL can suspend your license for much longer if you have multiple DUI prior convictions.

It’s crucial to act fast. The ALS takes effect post-arrest unless you request a civil hearing with Washington’s Department of Licensing (DOL) within 7 days of your arrest date.

A Seattle DUI attorney can explain the ALS process and potentially contest the suspension. Each situation is unique.

Collateral Effects of a DUI

Beyond the immediate penalties of a DUI, having a criminal record can disrupt virtually every aspect of your life.

A DUI on Your Record Causes:

  • Issues pursuing or continuing education
  • Employment struggles or job loss
  • Complications or denials in acquiring professional licenses
  • Reduced child custody or visitation rights
  • Immigration status concerns and potential deportation
  • Travel restrictions
  • For felony convictions, loss of firearm rights and voting rights

The King County DUI Process

When you’re arrested for DUI in King County, you may be booked into the local jail, photographed, fingerprinted, and processed. Depending on the circumstances, you might be released when the police believe you are no longer a danger to yourself or others. But sometimes, bail might be required to secure your release after a DUI arrest.

Following your arrest, you must attend an arraignment in one of the district courts, such as Seattle, Redmond, or Kent. Here, you’ll learn of the official charges and enter a plea.

After the arraignment, your attorney will review the police report, consult with you, commence negotiations with the prosecutor, file any appropriate legal motions to address evidentiary deficiencies. If no resolution is reached, the case may proceed to trial.

Work with a Seattle DUI Lawyer

Dealing with a DUI in Seattle or anywhere in the state can feel overwhelming, but a capable DUI defense lawyer can help.

Your attorney can explain the process, look for opportunities to improve the situation, and, most importantly, advocate for your interests. This can include reducing the possible penalties, preserving your ability to drive, or potentially working toward a complete dismissal if the case against you has evidentiary issues.

Defending Against a DUI in WA

Being charged with a DUI does not guarantee you’ll be convicted. The prosecutor has a lot of work to do before that happens.

There are numerous defense strategies that a DUI attorney can employ to contest the charges or even have them dismissed. Common defenses include challenging the traffic stop’s legality, the search’s validity, contesting inadmissible DUI evidence, questioning the results of faulty blood or breath tests, and presenting medical conditions that might mimic signs of intoxication.

It’s crucial to consult with a skilled DUI attorney to ensure every option is being explored. While public defenders are competent attorneys, their caseloads often prevent them from giving individual cases extensive attention.

Alternative DUI Punishments & Deferred Prosecution

While a DUI can sometimes result in time behind bars, a lawyer can significantly reduce the impact on your life and freedom even if you’re convicted. Your attorney can advocate for jail time to be served as Electronic Home Monitoring (EHM). For instance, for first-time DUI offenders, it’s common to substitute jail time with EHM, allowing you to go to and from work, doctor’s appointments, treatment, and other court-approved activities.

Deferred DUI Prosecution

Washington State also allows for Deferred Prosecution under RCW 10.05 which offers people struggling with alcoholism, substance addiction, or mental health conditions the chance to undergo treatment instead of the immediate legal penalties for a DUI. Eligible participants must adhere to a court-approved treatment plans, typically spanning two years, and meet strict court conditions over a five-year period.

If successfully completed, the DUI charge can be dismissed, sparing you a conviction on your record. However, failure to comply can result in the court entering a conviction and imposing the original sentencing. Additionaly, being admitted to deferred prosecution is not guaranteed. An experienced lawyer can be instrumental in navigating this process, ensuring eligibility, advocating for court approval, and helping you adhere to the program’s rigorous demands.

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Washington DUI Info & Resources

Our DUI attorneys are here to help you effectively handle DUI charges and protect your rights. We hope you find this information helpful. If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. If you’re facing a DUI, the sooner you contact Emerald City Law Group, the better.

When Can the Police Pull You Over for DUI?

Police can only stop you if they have reasonable suspicion of a crime, which includes observable signs such as erratic driving or moving violations. This standard goes beyond gut feelings and must be based on specific, observed behaviors.

If you’re stopped and suspected of impairment, provide required identification, registration, and proof of insurance, but avoid answering further questions without a DUI defense lawyer.

What to Do During a DUI Stop?

  • Pull Over Safely: Upon seeing flashing lights, promptly and safely pull over away from traffic.
  • Remain Calm & Visible: Turn off the radio, place your hands on the steering wheel, and keep them visible.
  • Provide Required Documents: Offer your license, registration, and proof of insurance when asked. Always inform the officer before reaching for these items.
  • Limit Communication: While you must provide license, registration, and insurance, you should not answer further questions from the police.
  • Comply with Orders: Exit the vehicle if instructed, but you should refuse roadside breath tests and field sobriety tests.
  • Avoid Escalating: If arrested, remain calm and don’t argue. Immediately request an attorney and refrain from further discussion.
  • Get a DUI Lawyer ASAP: After any DUI stop, it’s advised to contact Emerald City Law Group for guidance.

Are DUI Checkpoints Legal in Washington?

Random roadblocks checking for DUIs are not lawful in Washington. Unfortunately, this does not stop the police in Seattle and throughout Washington from being liberal in pulling over drivers, especially on nights, weekends, and holidays. If you are pulled over and believe the officer did not have reasonable suspicion, contact a DUI lawyer in Seattle for assistance.

Learn More About DUI Arrests & Searches

Your Rights Regarding DUI Sobriety Tests

Police officers frequently rely on field sobriety tests, which are standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), to detect drug or alcohol impairment:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test: Track a small object with your eyes as it moves side to side. Officers watch for abnormal jerking motions in the eyes, indicating potential impairment.
  • Walk-and-Turn Test: Take nine heel-to-toe steps in a straight line, turn by taking a series of small steps, and then return.
  • One-Leg Stand Test: Stand on one foot with the other lifted six inches off the ground and count out loud.

These tests are notoriously inaccurate and open to interpretation. Most people fail these tests even when they are completely sober. Legally, you can refuse these tests. You should refuse and state, “I respectfully decline to submit to field sobriety tests.”

DUI Test Refusal & Implied Consent

Under RCW 46.20.308, licensed drivers in Washington have provided their implied consent to a breath test if arrested for DUI. This is what is known as the implied consent law. After a DUI arrest, officers must read your Miranda Rights and the Implied Consent Warning.

While the implied consent law doesn’t cover roadside breath tests, refusing an official breath test at the station can result in heightened penalties, including a one-year driver’s license suspension and increased jail time for a first-time refusal, with longer suspensions and increased jail time for subsequent DUI refusals.

Don’t Wait. Call Our Seattle DUI Lawyers

Contact a DUI lawyer with Emerald City Law Group as soon as possible. However, we understand you may not have the opportunity right away or know how to contact an attorney. In this case, contact a family member or friend who can call Emerald City Law Group.

We’ll advise them about the process and how to best secure your release.

Emerald City Law Group Will:

  • Listen to your story and investigate your case thoroughly.
  • Discuss your options honestly and clearly.
  • Refer you to get an alcohol and drug evaluation and sign up for recommended classes if doing so proactively doing so would benefit the negotiation of your case.
  • Challenge weak DUI evidence and aggressively advocate for you.
  • Keep you informed throughout your case.
  • Work diligently to ensure the best possible result for you.

Frequently Asked DUI Questions

DUI Defense Attorneys Serving Washington – Free Consultations 24/7

Emerald City Law Group provides Seattle and the greater Washington area with high caliber legal representation for those facing DUI related accusations.

Seattle – Local Areas Served

  • King County – Bellevue, Auburn, Kent, Renton, Federal Way, Kirkland, Redmond, Bothell, Carnation, Duvall, Issaquah, Maple Valley, Mercer Island, Sammamish, Seattle, & Woodinville
  • Snohomish County – Everett, Lynnwood, and Marysville.
  • Pierce County – Tacoma, Puyallup, Gig Harbor, and Lakewood
    • Greater Washington

      • Grays Harbor
      • Kittitas County
      • Spokane County
      • Cowlitz County
      • Douglas County
      • Mason County
      • Skagit County
      • Thurston County
      • Island County
      • Mason County
      • Grays County
      • Kitsap County
      • Lewis County
      • Whatcom County
      • Whitman County
      • San Juan County