The state of Washington takes drunk driving very seriously. A court may impose significant penalties, even for a first offense. In addition to jail time, fines, license revocation, the required installation of an ignition interlock device, and probation, there are often serious social consequences for a DUI conviction. Among other things, your car insurance rates may be raised, you may not be able to rent a car, your employment prospects may be undermined, and finding housing in the future may be more difficult. The stigma associated with a DUI conviction may affect not only you but also your spouse and children. If you have been charged with a DUI in Seattle, you should consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer at Blair & Kim. We can advocate forcefully on your behalf to forestall, defeat, or reduce the consequences of a prosecution.Potential Consequences of a DUI
In Washington, drivers are prohibited from operating a vehicle if they have a .08 percent or higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) under RCW 46.61.502. Penalties are increased for those with a .15 BAC or higher. It is nearly impossible for most drivers to predict how many drinks they can consume before reaching the BAC limit, since multiple factors can influence how alcohol affects an individual. There are lower BAC limits for drivers under 21 and commercial drivers. Although DUIs are usually associated with drunk driving, DUI law also prohibits driving under the influence of controlled substances, such as cocaine, marijuana, and other narcotics.
A DUI is a gross misdemeanor except in certain circumstances. A DUI can be a class C felony when a defendant has four or more prior offenses in a 10-year period, a prior conviction of vehicular assault or homicide while under the influence, or an out-of-state conviction that is comparable.
There are mandatory minimum penalties, even for a gross misdemeanor DUI. If you are convicted of a first DUI with a BAC of under .15, you may serve between 24 hours and one year in jail. Electronic home monitoring may be offered in lieu of jail time. You can also be fined between $350 and $5,000. The judge can suspend your license for at least 90 days. You may also have to install an ignition interlock device on your car. This device requires you to pass a breath test to start your car.
The penalties are increased with one or more DUI convictions within a seven-year period, making it critical to get an attorney to look out for your interests from the very first arrest. For example, if you have one prior DUI conviction within the last seven years and your BAC was under .15, you may serve 30 days to one year in jail and 60 days of electronic home monitoring. The judge may fine you between $500 and $5,000 and require you to install an ignition interlock device.
There are various constitutional protections and police procedures that should be followed in all cases, and a police or lab violation can be good grounds for challenging a DUI charge. For example, some cases may be defended on the grounds that the police did not have probable cause to stop you. Others may be defended on the basis that a field sobriety test was improperly administered. In some cases, a defense attorney can convince the prosecution to give you a plea bargain, such as a charge of wet reckless or reckless driving with alcohol. These are charges are less serious than a DUI.Consult a Knowledgeable DUI Lawyer in Seattle
It can be tempting to try to get a criminal case over with by simply pleading guilty, but each subsequent DUI conviction may involve increasingly harsher penalties. Since the judicial and social consequences may be severe, it is important to fight charges of DUI and other traffic offenses with the help of a Seattle attorney. We have 40 years of combined experience and can provide you with diligent legal representation. Blair & Kim also represents defendants in Redmond, Kirkland, and Bellevue, among other cities in King County. Call us at (206) 622-6562 or via our online form to set up a consultation.