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Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (DWI - Driving While Intoxicated)

A Driving Under the Influence charge can impact your license, your job, and your freedom very quickly. In Washington State the penalties get tougher and tougher every year. Once you are arrested for a DUI, you have a limited amount of time to respond to the Department of Licensing or risk losing your driver’s license.

Staying up to date on new developments in the field along with the latest technology has helped lead to many breath tests being thrown out. Don’t trust your DUI case to just anyone… too much is at stake. Call (206) 729-3477 today to schedule a free consultation. I am available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For your reference, I have provided additional information to help you better understand the DUI process.

What exactly is a DUI?

In the State of Washington, it is against the law to drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .08 within two hours of driving or be impaired to an appreciable degree by alcohol or drugs.

A DUI arrest triggers action by both the courts and the Department of Licensing. After you have been arrested, you have 30 days to request an Administrative Hearing with the Department of Licensing or risk losing your license for 90 days or more. You will also be charged by the local court with Driving Under the Influence in violation of RCW 46.61.502.

The court procedures and administrative hearings are normally unrelated and have no effect on one another. Once summoned to court, your initial appearance is called an Arraignment. After the Arraignment, your case is normally set for a Pre-Trial Hearing, then a Motion Hearing and possibly a trial.

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Penalties

A First Offense DUI carries mandatory jail time of one to two days depending on the breath test registered .15 or above or you refused the breath test. The criminal penalties further require a license suspension of 90 days or longer if you refused the breath test; installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for a year or longer, monetary fines and five years probation.

A Second Offense or more within seven years carries significantly longer sanctions, license revocations and other penalties.

The minimum penalties for a DUI depend on any prior DUI’s and your breath test level:

First Offense: No prior DUI’s in the last seven years

  1. Breath test under .15 or no breath test/non-refusal
    • One day in jail or 15 days Electronic Home Monitoring
    • $685 fine plus costs, fees and assessments
    • 90-day license suspension
    • Probation-minimum two years up to five
    • Ignition Interlock for minimum one year
    • Alcohol evaluation and any recommended treatment
  2. Breath test .15 or higher or refusal to take breath test
    • Two days in jail or 30 days Electronic Home Monitoring
    • $925 fine plus costs, fees and assessments
    • One-year license revocation
    • Probation-up to five years
    • Ignition Interlock for minimum one year
    • Alcohol evaluation and any recommended treatment

Second Offense: One prior offense in last seven years

  1. Breath test under .15 or no breath test/non-refusal
    • 30 days in jail and 60 days Electronic Home Detention
    • $925 fine plus costs, fees and assessments
    • Two year license revocation followed by driver exams
    • Probation-up to five years
    • Ignition interlock for minimum one year (if no previous interlock)
    • Alcohol evaluation and any recommended treatment
  2. Breath test .15 or higher or refusal to take breath test
    • 45 days in jail plus 90 days Electronic Home Detention
    • $1,325 fine plus costs, fees and assessments
    • License revocation followed by driver exams
    • Probation-up to five years
    • Ignition interlock for minimum one year (if no previous interlock)
    • Alcohol evaluation and any recommended treatment

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Breath Testing

In the State of Washington, the only approved breath testing device for alcohol is the BAC Verifier DataMaster Breath Test Machine or DataMaster, and now the DataMaster CDM. Two breath tests are obtained from each subject and the average of the two tests is the official breath test level.

A Brief Look at the Science

The DataMaster machine uses the scientific principles of infrared spectroscopy and the Lambert-Beer Law to measure the amount of ethanol in a person’s breath. Ethanol is the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. Infrared spectroscopy is a technique that quantifies the interaction between infrared energy and chemical compounds. Ethanol will absorb infrared energy at a specific wavelength and the amount of energy absorbed depends on the concentration of ethanol molecules. These principles permit the identification and quantification of ethanol.

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Field Sobriety Testing

If a police officer suspects you might be impaired, he will normally request that you perform a series of roadside agility exercises known as the “field sobriety tests.” The standard tests normally given an individual are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), the One Leg Stand and the Walk and Turn test. An officer might also request you perform the Finger Touch, Rhomberg Balance, Finger to Nose, Backwards Count or ABC tests. Although these tests are considered supplemental, they are regularly used by officers in deciding whether to make an arrest. All of these tests can be difficult for anyone, especially those with knee or leg injuries or poor vision. The results of these exercises are used by a police officer in deciding probable cause and in court by the prosecuting attorney.

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Portable Breath Test

This is the handheld breath test machine many police officers will request you blow into just prior to placing you under arrest. The results of these devices are normally not admissible in Washington courts.

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Deferred Prosecution

Deferred prosecution is an option that allows a person who has an alcohol problem, a drug problem, or a mental health problem to complete an intensive treatment program. Once the treatment program in completed, the court will dismiss the criminal charge. To be eligible, you must be found to be alcohol dependent, drug dependent, or mentally ill. And you are only allowed one deferred prosecution in your lifetime.

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Physical Control of Vehicle While Under the Influence

A driver is considered guilty of this charge if he or she had physical control of the vehicle, even if the car is stopped and has a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher or is affected to an appreciable degree by alcohol or drugs.

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Driver Under 21 Consuming Alcohol (Minor DUI)

A driver commits this crime if he or she is under age 21 and has a BAC level of .02 or higher within two hours of operating or being in physical control of a vehicle.

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  • HORIZONTAL GAZE NYSTAGMUS
    State v. Baity, 140 Wn.2d 1991, P.2d 1151 (2000)
  • TERRY STOP
    State v. Martinez, 135 Wn.App. 174 (2006)
  • PROBABLE CAUSE TO ARREST
    O’Neill v. Department of Licensing, 62 Wn.App. 112, 813 P.2d 166 (1991)
  • FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS
    City of College Place v. Jeffrey Staudenmaier, 110 Wn. App. 841; 43 P.3d 43 (2002)
  • BREATH TESTING-DATAMASTER
    Fircrest v. Jensen, 158 Wash. 2d 384 (2006)
  • Implied consent — Test refusal — Procedures.
    RCW 46.20.308
  • Implied consent — License sanctions, length of.
    RCW 46.20.3101
  • Application — Eligibility — Restrictions — Cancellation.
    RCW 46.20.391
  • Drivers convicted of alcohol offenses.
    RCW 46.20.720
  • Alcohol violators — Penalty schedule.
    RCW 46.61.5055
  • Persons under influence of intoxicating liquor or drug — Evidence — Tests — Information concerning tests.
    RCW 46.61.506
  • Driving under the influence.
    RCW 46.61.502

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