Receiving any type of DUI charge is a serious matter. Washington state DUI offenders may face time in jail, hefty fines, and multiple months with a suspended license. The majority of DUI offenses are charged as misdemeanors in Washington. However, in some cases you can face a felony DUI, requiring the services of an experienced Seattle felony DUI lawyer to effectively fight the charges against you.
A felony conviction related to driving under the influence carries heavier punishments than misdemeanor convictions, and it can impose additional consequences on your life as well. If you or a loved one has been accused of a felony DUI, you can trust the Seattle felony DUI lawyers from Emerald City Law Group to provide you with a strong and well-crafted defense.
How to be Charged With a Felony DUI in Seattle
Per Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 46.61.502, law enforcement may charge you with a felony DUI if you are arrested for driving or having physical control of a vehicle while impaired, and when one or more of the following are also true:
- The person has three or more prior DUI related convictions over the past 10 years
- The person has a previous vehicular assault, vehicular homicide, or other comparable offense conviction in another state
- The person has any other previous felony DUI conviction
A felony DUI charge may result if you, while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, cause an accident or injury to others. It is essential to have a seasoned Seattle felony DUI lawyer to defend you against the potential consequences of these charges.
Proving a Felony DUI in Washington State
In order to be convicted of a felony DUI in Washington, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was .08 percent or higher; that you possessed a blood THC concentration of 5 mg or higher; or that your operation of the vehicle was affected by alcohol, or any other drug, to any noticeable degree.
Penalties for Felony DUI Convictions in Washington State
A felony DUI conviction can impose difficult and intrusive penalties. The implications such a conviction will have on your personal and professional lives can be far-reaching. That is why it is crucial to have a felony DUI lawyer with the right experience defending you.
Felony DUI charges in Seattle are designated as class B felonies in Washington, and carry the following penalties:
- Up to five years in prison
- Fines reaching $10,000
- A combination of both imprisonment and fines
Your specific sentence is determined from by an offender score that a judge assigns you. This score is based on points that correspond to your current or prior convictions. If you’re convicted of a felony DUI, you will have your driver’s license revoked while you’re in prison. If you are not sentenced to prison, you may qualify for an ignition interlock driver’s license. This enables you to drive while your original license is revoked.
In addition to the above-mentioned penalties, you face a number of collateral consequences upon a DUI conviction, including:
- A permanent criminal record
- Difficulty accessing job opportunities
- Trouble obtaining educational opportunities
- Difficulty finding rental housing
- Immigration issues
- Problems pertaining to your child custody and/or visitation
Defenses for Your Felony DUI
With an intelligent defense strategy, your Seattle felony DUI lawyer may be able to reduce or eliminate the potential penalties you are facing. Some possible defenses available in DUI cases include:
Lack of Probable Cause to Stop, Detain, and Arrest
The police must have proper legal authority to make a traffic stop. The suspicion they have to stop and detain you must be reasonable. As well, probable cause must be present to carry out an arrest. If the officer failed to obtain one of these elements prior to your arrest, your lawyer may be able to challenge to the legality of your arrest.
Challenging Breath and Blood Test Results
The devices and methods used to measure blood alcohol concentration, such as a breathalyzer, or through the direct method of drawing blood, must be properly calibrated and maintained according to strict standards. Even when these devices are properly maintained and calibrated, challenges can be made to test results. For instance, taking certain drugs or eating certain foods within a certain period of time prior to the test may produce a false reading.
Field Sobriety Test Challenge
In Washington, police are required to let you know that participating in field sobriety tests (FSTs) is voluntary. You have the right to contact a felony DUI attorney before participating in one of these tests. Police are also required to follow certain procedures when administering FSTs. Any deviation from these protocols may undermine the reliability of the results.
Failure to Advise of Miranda Rights
The police officer must advise you of your Miranda rights prior to placing you under arrest. Any failure to advise you of these rights can result in a legitimate challenge to the admissibility of any statements you made to law enforcement while in custody.
Legitimate Explanations for Your Behavior and Appearance
In certain situations, you may have a legitimate explanation other than intoxication for appearing to be under the influence. For example, you may have simply suffered from fatigue or possessed a physical disability that led to poor performance with an FST.
Right to Counsel
If a police officer fails to allow you to contact your attorney, they are violating your legal rights. You may have grounds to challenge your DUI case if your right to counsel was restricted or denied at any point in time.
Talk to a Seattle Felony DUI Lawyer Today
At Emerald City Law Group, we understand the of being charged with a DUI. If you are in this position, you need determined and experienced legal counsel to protect your rights and fight for the best possible outcome in your case. We are here to help you. To set up a free, no-obligation consultation with a highly skilled Seattle DUI attorney, call our office today at 206-973-0407, or complete our contact form.
How a Seattle DUI Lawyer Can Help
A lot of question come up if you are charged with a DUI in Washington State.
At Emerald City Law Group, we are here to answer them and advise you on what to expect after a DUI. Once we are on your case, we will conduct a thorough investigation to get all the facts, obtain the evidence that may benefit or hurt your case, and will determine the strongest possible defenses for your situation.
Depending on the situation, we can fight for the charges to be dropped or reduced, pursue a plea agreement, or prepare for trial. We will use all our resources to avoid a conviction entirely or minimize the penalties and collateral consequences.
If you have been charged with a DUI in or around King County, Washington, let us explain how we can help. Contact us online or call 206-973-0407 to schedule a consultation.