The criminal defense attorneys at Budd Bay Law, P.S. represent people in Olympia and beyond who are charged with the full range of felonies and misdemeanors, including driving under the influence (DUI). Like any criminal charge, a DUI should be taken very seriously and referred to an experienced criminal defense lawyer. In fact, a DUI is in many ways more serious than other “worse” offenses, with a wide array of potential penalties impacting your driving privilege and your personal and professional life.
Even for a first offense, a DUI conviction carries the potential for stiff penalties, including up to a year in jail and $5,000 in fines. You can also be placed on probation for up to five years and have an ignition interlock device installed in your car for five years. Additionally, you may be ordered to undergo up to two years of alcohol evaluation and treatment. And that is just for a first offense; the penalties increase for multiple offenses. In fact, your fourth arrest for a DUI can be charged as a felony. The law also provides enhanced penalties if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tests at above a certain level, or if you refuse to test.
In addition to the possible criminal penalties, the Department of Licensing (DOL) will move to suspend your license (90 days for a first offense) as soon as they receive notice of your arrest. DOL may suspend your license even if you are found not guilty of the DUI charge in court! You have a right to an administrative hearing, but you must request the hearing within 20 days of receiving notice, or else your right to a hearing is waived. We can represent you at your license suspension hearing as well as your criminal case, but you must remember to act quickly and contact us in time to complete the hearing request.
What is Driving Under the Influence?
If a blood or breath test measures your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at .08% or more, you can be charged with DUI regardless of whether your driving was actually impaired. You can also be arrested for DUI with a BAC less than .08% if the arresting officer observes signs of impaired driving, such as weaving or drifting out of your lane. It is also important to note that you can be arrested in Washington with a .08% BAC if you are not even driving! If you are sitting on the side of the road with the keys in the ignition, you can be charged with Physical Control because you could drive if you wanted to, even though you aren’t.
Seek Experienced Legal Representation
There may be several defenses available to your DUI arrest. First of all, there are many reasons why you may appear to be driving while intoxicated, even though you aren’t. You may be tired or momentarily distracted, or you may be the type of person who gets nervous and drives erratically when being followed by the police. This is not criminal behavior and should not be treated as such. Other defenses include challenging the accuracy of the equipment or methods used to test you, or the authority of the police to stop you in the first place.
A DUI conviction carries serious consequences beyond even the criminal and administrative penalties. You face much steeper insurance rates or even dropped coverage, and a criminal record can damage your employment opportunities and reputation in the community. At Budd Bay Law, P.S., our criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience fighting to get the possible result for our clients in every case. If you have been arrested for DUI in Thurston, Pierce, Lewis, Mason or Grays Harbor County, contact our legal team for immediate assistance.