Driving Under the Influence (DUI/DWI)

A DUI is the most common charge for someone to face in their lifetime. In fact, over a million people a year are arrested for DUI. Not only this but statistics also show that the average person arrested for DUI has driven drunk more than 80 times before being arrested.

 

There are many different ways that someone can be accused of DUI in Washington State. A DUI occurs anytime someone operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, while he or she has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher or a THC (marijuana) concentration of 5.00 ng/ml or higher. This means a DUI charge could be applied even if the defendant is under the legal limit if the State can prove that the person’s ability to drive was “affected to an appreciable degree.” This most commonly occurs when someone is in an accident after consuming alcohol but still records a breath test under the legal limit. If you’re in this situation, make sure you find the best DUI defense attorney.

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What to Expect When Charged with a DUI

Some defendants will be cited and released after taking the breath test. Others will be booked into jail, especially if a prior DUI has been charged within ten years. More than likely, the defendant’s vehicle will be towed and impounded.

First Appearance

Usually occurs first business day following arrest.

 

Judge will determine probable cause for the charge, determine conditions of release (bond, Ignition Interlock Device, alcohol or drug testing, etc.) and set a new Court date.

Arraignment

Plea is entered.

Pre-Trial Hearing

Prosecution, defense and defendant meet with judge to determine if case is ready for trial or resolution; if trial date is not set or resolution reached, a continuance may be granted to allow for further preparations.

Most DUIs are settled with a plea deal at the pre-trial hearing.

Trial

Trial date is scheduled or negotiated resolutions put in action (plea deal, incarceration, fines, community service, probation).
Negotiated resolutions may vary based on the severity of the charge and facts of the case.

What to Expect at Your First Court Hearing

Judge will hear the police report and make a determination as to whether probable cause for the charge exists.

Judge will schedule a new court date.

Judge will impose conditions of release, which vary depending upon the facts of the case. These could include but are not limited to posting a bond, installation of an Ignition Interlock Device or submit to random or continual alcohol or drug testing.

Finally, the judge may ask if the defendant would like to proceed with an arraignment and enter a “not guilty” plea.

DUI Criminal Penalties

Washington State has some of the toughest drunk driving laws in the country and local prosecutors have declared a war on drunk drivers. Consequently, it is important to find DUI defense attorney to be your advocate. A DUI is usually considered a gross misdemeanor, which means that the maximum sentence one could receive is 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. However, if the defendant has history of a prior Vehicular Homicide or Vehicular Assault based upon a DUI or if this is the defendant’s fifth DUI in 10 years, they will be facing a class B Felony which can result in up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

 

Even a conviction for the most trivial DUI may include mandatory incarceration, fines, license suspension, Ignition Interlock Device (IID), alcohol and drug treatment, and probation. Factors in determining the mandatory minimum sentence include how many “prior offenses” the defendant has within seven years, whether the breath test was accepted or refused, and the breath test was taken above or below a 0.15.

DUI Administrative Penalties

In addition to facing criminal charges, most people will incur an administrative suspension or revocation of their driver’s license as a result of the DUI. Someone accused of a first offense DUI within seven years where they provided a breath sample over a 0.08 (or over 0.02 if under the age of 21) will be facing a mandatory 90 day license suspension. A first refusal can lead to a one year license revocation. Finally, a second or subsequent administrative action for a DUI can result in a license revocation for two years.

 

Typically after getting a DUI, the defendant’s license will automatically be suspended or revoked 60 days after the arrest. However, there is an opportunity for your DUI defense attorney to challenge the license suspension by requesting an administrative hearing with the Department of Licensing within 20 days of the arrest.

What You Need to Know to Succeed

The following is a general roadmap to success navigating through a DUI charge. The list is non-exhaustive and hiring the right DUI defense attorney can ease the stress involved with this situation.

Take a deep breath.

Realize you will get through this, but you can’t bury your head in the sand. A DUI is a problem that will not just go away on its own. You and your DUI defense attorney have to take action.

Get your vehicle out of impound as soon as possible.

Impound fees increase the longer the tow company has to hold your vehicle.

Remember your deadlines:

Day 0: Arrest

Day 1-3 (next business day): First appearance and arraignment

Day 20: Deadline for requesting a Department of Licensing (DOL) hearing

Day 25-45: Pre-trial hearing as scheduled at the first appearance

Day 60: License suspension if DOL hearing is not requested

 

Make an appointment with a DUI attorney right away.

You will want to meet with your DUI defense attorney before your first appearance if possible. If you hire Kidd Defense, we will guide you successfully through the process, as we have done for hundreds of other clients.

Possible Outcomes When Charged with a DUI

Every DUI case is different and outcomes vary based upon the specifics of the case.  The best possible outcome is a dismissal or a not guilty verdict at trial.  Generally, the next best outcome is a reduction to a civil infraction such as negligent driving in the second degree.  Other possible pleas and outcomes may include:

Plea to a charge of negligent driving in the first degree

This is a simple misdemeanor having a maximum sentence of 90 days jail, $1,000 fine and up to 24 months probation but no licensing consequences for a first offense.

Plea to a charge of reckless driving

This is classified as a gross misdemeanor having a maximum sentence of 364 days jail, $5,000 fine and up to 24 months probation.  A reckless driving charge carries a 30 day license suspension.

Plea to a charge of reckless endangerment

Reckless endangerment is a gross misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 364 days jail, $5,000 fine and up to 24 months probation, however there are no licensing consequences.

Deferred prosecution

A once in a lifetime opportunity to avoid a conviction for DUI and the jail and fines accompanying a conviction.  It is based upon stipulation of suffering from an alcohol or drug dependency, agreeing to a two year treatment program, five total years of probation and carrying an Ignition Interlock Device for a period of at least one year, depending upon prior history.

A courthouse of law

Defending a DUI Charge

Very few cases are as complex and difficult to defend as a DUI.  The law is ever changing, the penalties vast and the evidence both complicated and scientific. If you are charged with a DUI you need a DUI defense attorney with the knowledge and the experience to ensure you get the best possible outcome. At Kidd Defense, we’ve successfully defended more than 1,000 DUI cases. Let our proven track record work for you—call us today at 509-710-8930.

Contact Us Today to Discuss Your Options!