Driving Under the Influence
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), commonly called “Drunk Driving” refers to operating a motor vehicle while one's blood alcohol content is able the legal limit set by statute, which supposedly is the level at which a person cannot drive safely. While DUI charges are usually the result of alcohol consumption, it is very important to understand that the user of illegal AND legal drugs (including prescription and over the counter medication) can lead to a DUI arrest.
DUI arrests can be based on many different factors. The most common evidence used in the prosecution of a DUI are the breath and blood tests. These tests are designed to show the amount of alcohol in a driver's blood. The statutory threshold for DUI is .08 (lower for individuals under the age of 21). For marijuana or “green DUI's” the THC concentration in the blood of the driver must be 5.00 or more.
Generally when someone is arrested for DUI, they are stopped while operating a motor vehicle. Although this is the most common way one is arrested, it is important to remember that you can be arrested for DUI even if you are not actually driving the vehicle; you can be arrested for DUI for being in “actual physical control”. We have defended cased where those simply sitting in their cars with the keys in the vehicle have resulted in a DUI arrest.
The penalties for DUI's are not minor and can vary greatly depending on a number of factors. At the most basic level, DUI's are considered gross misdemeanors, meaning that the maximum punishment is up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000.00 fine. Even if you are a first time offender, the court MUST follow the “mandatory minimum” sentencing guidelines, and, by law, are not allowed to drop punishments of either fines, or jail time below those guidelines.
Department of Licensing
In addition to the penalties imposed by the court, the Department of Licensing (DOL) has its own set of guidelines and penalties depending on a number of factors. Washington State has an "implied consent law" which allows the Department of Licensing to revoke or suspend your license if you either: (1) refuse to take a breath or blood test, if lawfully asked, or (2) take a breath or blood test and your alcohol concentration is .08 or higher. You have a right to challenge any action the Department of Licensing takes, but the burden is on you to request a hearing by mailing in a form to the DOL or requesting the hearing online. You have 20 days from the date of your arrest to request this hearing. It is crucial that you do not miss this deadline. Many drivers are confused that the DOL administrative process and potential license suspension happens whether or not you have been criminally charged in court with a Washington State DUI. This means your license may be taken away from you by the Washington State Department of Licensing even if you are never charged with the crime of DUI or physical control.
At Johnson Law Firm, we have many years experience defending DUIs and working with clients to take them through the DOL hearings process. We make sure to involve our clients in every step of the process to ensure they are informed as their case progresses. We pride ourselves in working with clients to obtain the best possible outcome, regardless of the facts of the case.
DUIs are serious charges with significant consequences. You need to make sure you have the right attorney in your corner if charged with such a crime... At Johnson Law Firm, we are that attorney and will fight for you!