Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Washington State is an offense that is taken very seriously by the various prosecuting authorities and agencies. Always in the public eye, DUI laws continually evolve, with calls for stricter and stricter punishment. Enforcement has also increased, by enhanced patrols during holidays and weekends, as well as special DUI emphasis departments within law enforcement agencies.
A DUI conviction can have significant impacts on a person’s life, which include mandatory jail time, license suspension, loss of employment, and expensive treatment, as well as social stigma and black marks on criminal background checks.
The lawyers at Ashbach Law Offices, LLC provide aggressive, strong defense for those charged with DUI allegations throughout Skagit, Snohomish, King and Whatcom Counties. Our goal is to aggressively protect you, your family and your interests from the prosecution, saving jail time, licenses, occupations and reputations. With offices in Marysville and Mill Creek, Washington, we are available to meet you discuss your case. We help good people in bad situations. Let us help you.
DUI in General
The stress and worry from a DUI arrest, court dates, employment ramifications and possible jail, fines and license suspension revocation is very real. However, even if your alleged BAC or THC levels are above legal limits, there is still hope for a successful resolution to your case! We have been successfully defending clients facing DUI allegations for over 45 combined years. Whether by pretrial negotiations, suppression/dismissal motions or jury trial, we stand ready to protect you, your rights and your future. Contact us today for a free consultation. We are here to help.
A Driving under the Influence, or DUI, charge is an allegation that a person drove a motor vehicle in the State of Washington, while the person:
1) had within two hours of driving, an alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, as shown by a blood or breath test analysis, or
2) had within two hours of driving, a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher as shown by a blood analysis, or
3) was affected by an intoxicating liquor, marijuana, or any other drug, or any combination thereof
DUIs involving a BAC of .08 or higher, or a THC of 5.00 or higher, are considered “per se” DUI charges, meaning that regardless of tolerance level, a DUI charge may proceed.
In cases with lower breath or blood test results (or none at all), and there is evidence that driving was impaired, a DUI may still be charged (and a conviction could be obtained). Such is often the case for breath or blood test refusals, or instances involving people who have little tolerance to alcohol or other drugs.
Under the “per se” charges, it is not necessary that at the time of the driving, the BAC or THC levels in were above the legal limit – only that sufficient quantities of alcohol or THC had been ingested. This means a person could drink a large amount of alcohol, drive a car immediately thereafter and not have the alcohol affect the person until after any driving was over, but still be convicted of DUI. This has been upheld by State courts.
Defenses to DUI
Even if a case seems initially “open and shut” there are quite a few defenses that may be applied, and weaknesses found in a prosecution’s case, that can result in significant reduction in charges, dismissals or “not guilty” verdicts at trial. Our office thoroughly investigates each case to find any and all potential issues available to help protect and defend our clients. Discussed below are some of the more commonly found defenses and issues.
• Did the officer have justification to pull the driver over in the first place? If not, all evidence may be able to be suppressed. As an example, our office was able to get a DUI case with a .14 BAC dismissed after subpoenaing the arresting officer to court and convincing the judge that the officer was wrong in stopping our client.
• Was the proper breath test procedure followed? All steps must be followed completely, or the breath test results may be suppressed. Our office has represented many people in otherwise bad cases where due to officer error, breath test results were thrown out and charges were greatly reduced.
• Was proper blood draw procedure followed? Often it is not, and we have achieved great results for clients by showing that errors were made in the draw, handling and testing of the blood.
• Did the officer have probable cause to arrest the driver? Sometimes the officer makes a mistake, arresting a driver before being legally authorized. This can, and has, resulted in dismissal of cases even where later BAC results were above .08.
• Were FSTS administered correctly? Often they are not, and this can result in suppression of FSTS results, weakening the prosecution’s case.
• Was the Breathalyzer in good working order? Breathalyzers often have errors or need repairs, and such problems may affect the results.
• Did the driver have any medical conditions, such as GERD, that could artificially inflate the results?
• Were the breath test results reliably above the .08 limit? Sometimes a .08 breath test is actually less than a .08.
Whatever the defenses or weaknesses to your case, we will give your case the time, attention and care it deserves to best protect you.
A Deferred Prosecution is a contract between a person charged, the court and the prosecutor’s office that requires the petitioner to comply with certain conditions. These conditions typically require a two-year treatment program, law abiding behavior for five years, among other stipulations. If a petition successfully completes the five-year program, the charge is to be dismissed. The decision to enter into a Deferred Prosecution is not to be taken lightly, and as your advocates we will make sure that whatever choice you make, it is a fully informed decision.
Department of Licensing Issues
Upon arrest for a DUI, where there has been a BAC of .08 or above or a breath test refusal, the DOL starts an administrative process of suspending a driver’s license for at least 90 days, in some instances revoking a license for a year or more. This suspension or revocation can be challenged, but there is a time limit for doing so. Largely independent of the administrative suspension is license suspension that can be ordered by the court. In many instances, simply getting relicensed after a suspension can be difficult and confusing for a person going through the process for the first time. We can help guide you through the bureaucracy and speed up resolution of any issues.
Typically a DUI is a Gross Misdemeanor allegation. However, if a person charged with DUI has four or more “prior offenses” within 10 years of the current offense, or if the person has been convicted of certain felonies in the past, a DUI may then be chargeable as a Class C Felony.
Sample Result – Client charged with Felony DUI, facing multi-year prison sentence – no jail
Ignition Interlock Requirements
A conviction of a DUI offense carries an ignition interlock requirement, typically of at least a year. In some instances, it can be for longer period of time, such as 5 or 10 years. For some DUIs that are reduced to Negligent Driving First Degree, or Reckless Driving, the requirement is at least six months. Regardless of length, an ignition interlock requirement imposed by DOL will not be lifted unless certain requirements are met.
Conviction for a DUI offense carries with it mandatory minimum penalties for both incarceration and fines. These mandatory minimums range from a day in jail and a $940.50 fine up to years in prison, depending on BAC/THC levels (or refusal of such tests) and prior history of DUI or related offenses.
Ashbach Law Offices, LLC, aggressively represents clients charged with Driving under the Influence (DUI) offenses throughout the Washington I-5 corridor, covering Skagit, Snohomish, King and Whatcom Counties. Regular courts of practice include, but are not limited to, Anacortes, Arlington, Bellevue, Bellingham, Blaine, Burlington, Edmonds, Everett, Issaquah, Lynnwood, Marysville, Monroe, Mount Vernon, Mountlake Terrance, Redmond, Seattle, Sedro Woolley and Shoreline.