Washington State DUI Arrests and Convictions

DUI Criminal Defense and the Implied Consent Law

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 thier website.

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.

Why do I need a DUI Criminal Defense Attorney?

The reason is because without a good attorney you’re flying blind through a conflict of advice in a system where you know very little. You are also facing technicalities of the law and legal procedure that you never even knew existed.

  • Jensen Legal is an accessible, convenient and dependable DUI criminal defense law firm.
  • Call us with the type of charge (DUI, DWI, Drug Charges, Resisting Arrest, Theft, Battery, etc), the name of the Court as well as the time and date of your hearing. We can assess your case quickly and conveniently during our Free Consultation.
  • Every case is different. Your case deserves individual attention, whether it is for DUI, Drugs, Assault, Theft, or Protection Order issues.

Types of DUI | DWI arrests and the penalties involved

DUI convictions are sentenced according to the “Mandatory Minimums”, which are the minimum penalties a judge can impose.

1 day in jail for a First Time Offense, BAC test results less than .14 with no priors within seven years.

2 days in jail for a First Time Offense, BAC test results over .14 with no priors within seven years.

In addition to jail, there are fines, alcohol classes and a mandatory Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installation for a year in the car you drive.

It goes up after that. Way up. The Washington State Court – DUI Sentencing Grid for DUI convictions spells it out.

Felony DUI is a New Charge in Washington State

Felony DUI: Prior Offenses Can Affect Your Case

Felony DUI in Washington State specifies several different ways prosecutors can charge your DUI as a felony. RCW 46.61.502(6)

As you can see from the Sentencing Grid, prior convictions count. Prior convictions can be a conviction for a reduced charge that was originally DUI. They raise the stakes dramatically for DUI convictions. Look at the grid, think about your past and ask your lawyer questions.

Field Sobriety Tests | Breathalyzer Testing

We tell people that if the police pull you over and smell alcohol, they are going to ask you some questions. If you’re not drunk, then go ahead and take those “field sobriety tests”. The problem is the officer does not know you and has never seen you perform these tests before. If you look sloppy, they are most likely going to “fail” you on the tests and take you to the station for the real breath test, the BAC.

So, if you’re put together and not drunk then go ahead and take those field sobriety tests. If you have any question at all about whether you’re “affected” by alcohol, then don’t take the tests and assert your right to remain silent.

The safe route is to stay silent.

I am not a US citizen, how can a DUI or DWI arrest affect my residency status?

  • If you are not a US citizen, a conviction or even just a criminal charge can result in deportation. Jensen Legal will keep you informed and utilize other experts to make sure we navigate around the pitfalls brought by non-citizen issues.
  • Contact an experienced DUI | DWI criminal law defense attorney right away. The sooner Jensen Legal is on your case, the more we can do to help you.