Drunk Driving (DUI Tacoma) / Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Criminal Defense

Why fight a DUI charge? The question is, why roll over?
If you don’t fight your case the prosecutors will convict you and without a moment of sorrow.

Jensen Legal has over 20 years experience in helping our clients challenge DUI/DWI/BUI convictions. Challenging DUI Tacoma charges is what we do best. Any reduction in charges is likely to save you thousands of dollars in reinstatement and insurance fees. It also keeps your record in better condition for employment, apartment checks and other background and credit reasons. Every case is different.
Contact Kris Jensen for free legal advice, and let him help you with your DUI conviction

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Washington State DUI Law

DUI Tacoma

Drink Responsibly

In Washington, a driver is considered to be Driving Under the Influence (DUI) if the driver´s blood alcohol concentration is .08 or higher, or if the driver is impaired by other drugs (or both). It does not matter whether the drugs are prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, or illegal drugs – if your driving has been affected or impaired, you will be arrested if stopped.

Drivers under age 21 can be arrested for DUI with a blood alcohol concentration of .02 or higher.

What´s new in DUI Law?

Felony DUI laws. For people with multiple prior DUI or other qualifying convictions, a new DUI Tacoma charge can be a felony. That means up to 5 years in jail and thousands more in fines. Beginning in September, 2011, more convictions are being added to allow a DUI to qualify as a felony.
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Consequences of DUIs

A conviction for DUI carries these basic consequences:

  • Jail – between 1 and 364 days
  • Home Detention – sometimes
  • Complete alcohol treatment. The amount depends on the results of an evaluation conducted by a State certified alcohol treatment agency. Classes can be anywhere from 8 hours of education to 2 years of treatment. Some agencies have a sliding scale for low income.
  • Complete a Victim´s Panel class – Typically it´s a two hour class, where victims of DUI Tacoma drivers speak about their experience.
  • Community Service Hours  – sometimes
  • Fines – always
  • License Suspension -Length depends on your history and your case
  • Deportation – if you are not a US citizen, a conviction or even just a criminal charge can result in deportation.

First Offense (BAC less than 0.15):

  • Minimum of one day in JAIL 
  • FINES between $900 and $2,500 depending on the court.
  • LICENSE SUSPENSION of 90 days,
  • IGNITION INTERLOCK required for 12 months,
  • SR-22 High risk insurance for 3 years,
  • Court PROBATION and a
  • permanent CRIMINAL RECORD.

First Offense (BAC over 0.15 or refusal):

  • Minimum of two days in JAIL,
  • FINES between $900 and $2,500 depending on the court.
  • IGNITION INTERLOCK required for 2 years,
  • SR-22 High Risk insurance for 3 years,
  • Court PROBATION and a

Second Offense (BAC less than 0.15):

Minimum of 30 days jail PLUS 60 days of HOUSE ARREST in addition to first offense list of consequences

Second Offense (BAC less than over 0.15 or refusal):

Minimum of 45 days jail PLUS 90 days of HOUSE ARREST. Most of the rest same as above.

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Ignition Interlock License & Device (IIL & IID)

What is an Ignition Interlock Device and License (IIL & IID)?

IIL = Ignition Interlock LICENSE

  • Requires an Ignition Interlock Device is installed on the vehicle
  • It´s a type of “Temporary Restricted License”
  • You must carry and be able to produce an SR-22 insurance policy
  • You must apply for and pay DOL to get one

IID = Ignition Interlock DEVICE

  • Required in circumstances when the driver´s license is not revoked/suspended.
  • Sometimes called a “blow and go” by people who talk about these often. It´s a breath test machine hooked up to your car.

Basics to get an Ignition Interlock License (IIL)

Can I drive if my license gets suspended because of a DUI arrest?

Almost always the answer is YES.
Most people are allowed to drive with an Ignition Interlock License. Driving with an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) requires a license. The Ignition Interlock License (IIL) allows you to drive limited distances and for specific purposes when you have an IID installed on your vehicle.

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DUI Checkpoints and High Visibility DUI Enforcement Programs

A new DUI Checkpoint website has been launched sponsored by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, in order to provide King, Pierce and Snohomish County Residents advance notice of where special DUI patrols will be set up. This DUI Checkpoint website WATikiLeaks has a DUI Checkpoint calendar and other information on the coordinated law enforcement efforts to keep drunk and drug impaired drivers off the road.

The Commission hopes that by providing drivers information about the dates, times, and locations of DUI patrols, responsible citizens will observe caution and common sense by choosing a designated driver or will seek alternate means of transportation if they are consuming alcohol or any drug that may impair their driving ability.

In February 1996, The Drug Evaluation and Classification Program (DEC) was established. This program has focused on training law enforcement officers to become Drug Recognition Experts (DREs). Once certified, these trained officers are able to recognize the symptoms of intoxication for seven different categories of drugs.

In addition, The Washington State Liquor Control Board´s Enforcement and Education Division identifies establishments recognized as “Locations of Strategic Interest” based on arrest data they have collected, focusing resources and coordinating efforts with law enforcement to reduce excessive drinking.

The Washington State Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor Program was implemented in August 2009. This program is designed to prosecute, sanction, and treat DUI offenders. The goal is to increase and enforce the vigorous and unswerving prosecution of impaired drivers. The training, resources and references available to the Courts share the common goal of implementing the ten DUI Court principles developed by the National Center for DWI Courts. The Administrative Office of the Courts conducts annual DUI judicial educational training to keep judges up to date regarding new legal and technical issues surrounding DUI cases.

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What to Expect from a Department of Licensing Hearing

If you are cited for DUI, there are a few basic actions the Government will take against your license:

    • The Department of Licensing (DOL) will send you a notice that your license will be suspended for a certain amount of time unless you contest the suspension. This is called a DOL Administrative Hearing. At Jensen Legal we always want a client to contest the suspension of their license by DOL regardless of the facts of the incident.
    • If you are convicted in Court, the Court will send notice of your conviction to DOL. If the conviction is for a suspendable offense (DUI, Reckless Driving, etc), then DOL will initiate a suspension of your license.


  • The Department of Licensing (DOL) suspensions sometimes run concurrent (at the same time) and sometimes consecutive (end-on-end). You´ll need good legal advice in your case to determine the period of suspension and what you need to get your license reinstated.

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Implied Consent & Taking the Breathalyzer Test

If I am stopped for a DUI, what questions do I have to answer?

Not much.

You only need to show the police your driver’s license, insurance, proof of car registration. You don’t have to answer how much you’ve had to drink, where you drove from, IF you were driving or much of anything else.

You don’t need to perform the Field Sobriety Tests. Commonly known as the “FST’s”.

Ask the officer: “Am I required to do that?”

Ask the officer: “Am I required to answer that question?”

A good officer will tell you “no”. The officer may impound your car and take you down to the station for the Breathalyzer, but if you are reading this, then they were going to take you there anyway.

Your 5th Amendment Right to Stay Silent

You have it, so use it. It’s that simple. Think about it this way: You are cited with DUI after having blown a .09 BAC test. Is it better to tell the officer that you’re the Designated Driver and that all your buddies (who you just dropped off) were doing straight shots at Fred’s Tavern and that’s why your car reeks? Does that really help you?

NO, it does not, so just stay silent and let your attorney handle the rest.

If I am asked to blow a Breathalyzer, do I have to comply?

No, but you should. There are two kinds of breath test machines.

When you are arrested for a DUI/DWI, the police usually ask you to take two separate breath tests. The first test is on the Portable Breath Test (PBT) machine out in the field. It’s about the size of a large hand, has a tube sticking out the side and a digital number reading on the side. This test result is not admissible in any court of law, but can be used by the police to establish “probable cause” to arrest or not arrest you.

The next breath test is conducted through a machine controlled by a computer and side checked with a “simulator solution”. We call this the BAC (Blood Alcohol Content). These machines are either down at the police station or in a mobile command post (okay, that’s usually a bus). The results of this machine can be used in a court to convict you if the police conduct the test correctly and if the machine is certified and working properly. In my 20 years of practicing criminal defense these test results have been thrown out just as much as they’ve been kept in.

Consequences of the BAC tests

  • If you refuse the BAC test the DOL will try to suspend your driver’s license for a year or more.
  • If you take the test and blow between .08 and .14, they will try to suspend your license for 90 days.
  • If a court convicts you of DUI, Reckless Driving or some other suspendable offense, then DOL will move to suspend your license for an additional period of time.

Implied Consent laws of Washington State are found at RCW 46.20.308.

Driver’s license suspensions are confusing and depend on many factors, such as your prior record, the type of offense that suspends your license. Lots of Department of Licensing information can be found on their website.

Breathalyzer Suppression

At Jensen Legal we look at your case, your breath test and all the supporting documents to find any reason at all to suppress a breath test result. The validity of the whole process deserves it and so do you.

Why would it be suppressed? Here are some examples:

  • Simulator solution not current.
  • Breathalyzer machine not compliant with certification according to the Washington Administrative Code.
  • Breath machine error signals.
  • Officer did not follow procedures such as mouth check waiting time and did not actually observe subject during entire 15 minute wait time.
  • No probable cause to arrest or otherwise detain.

These are just a few reasons.

What Happens If My Lawyer Tells Me To Refuse The Test?

Question: If I refuse the Breath Test after my lawyer advises me to refuse the breath test, can the refusal be used against me at trial?

Answer: Maybe.

Some judges in Washington will accept the argument that you refused the breath test because your attorney told you to remain silent, not because you were refusing a breath test. Your license may still get suspended for a year, but in this circumstance you may prevent a prosecutor from telling a jury during your trial that you “refused the breath test “. This scenario can make your case more winnable at trial.

Protecting Clients Against False Breathalyzer Results

Breathalyzer (BAC) tests in Washington State can be suppressed if they do not meet the court standards of admissibility. Over the last 20 years these tests have been thrown out just about as much as they’ve been used by the courts. Your attorney should know which courts are suppressing, why they are suppressing and how to get your case in a position to get a suppression of the BAC test.

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