Washington DUI Arrests

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Info About DUI Arrests in Washington

Call Our Snohomish County DUI Defense Attorney

  1. What do I need to know about DUI arrests?
  2. What are my rights during a DUI stop?
  3. What should I do when I’m stopped for DUI?
  4. What protocol do the police have to follow during a DUI stop?
  5. What if the officer did not read my Miranda rights?
  6. What do I need to know after being arrested for DUI?
  7. What will happen after a DUI arrest?
  8. Will I be stranded if I’m arrested for DUI?

1. What do I need to know about DUI arrests?

DUI arrests, sometimes referred to as a DWI (driving while intoxicated), occur when a law enforcement officer suspects you are driving under the influence of alcohol or another substance that could impair your ability to drive safely. An individual is charged with a DUI in Seattle when their blood alcohol is .08% or greater.

Many people don’t realize that a DUI arrest can be made when a person is suspected of driving under the influence of any substance that affects driving ability, including: alcohol, illegal substances, prescription medication, and even some over-the-counter medications.

Without proper defense, you could face possible jail time, monetary fines, and loss of your driving privileges. Sometimes, the DUI can cause even greater problems, such as job loss; this is especially true when the defendant has limited access to driving privileges.

Facts you may not realize about Washington DUI laws:

  • If you were pulled over for a suspected traffic violation, law enforcement cannot stop you for a random DUI test; there must have been some sort of violation or driving problem that led to the initial traffic stop.
  • Law enforcement may punch a hole in your driver’s license. This means the Department of Licensing intends to suspend your driver’s license.
  • Refusal to take a breathalyzer test or blood test will result in the revocation of your driver’s license for 1 year or more.
  • Your insurance rates will increase for 3 years following a DUI conviction or refusal to comply with blood or breath tests.
  • A conviction for a first DUI offense could result in penalties of $5,000 and up to 1 year in jail.

Fortunately, with a Snohomish County DUI defense attorney on your side, your outcome could be far different. Our lawyer can mount an aggressive defense against your charges and carefully examine and / or challenge evidence gathered at the time of the arrest.

2. What are my rights during a DUI stop?

If you are stopped for a DUI in Washington State, your best option is to immediately consult with a member of our team as soon as possible.

The most common question the law enforcement officer will ask you is if you have been drinking. Our DWI lawyers firmly believe you should never lie to the officer – but you also don’t have to volunteer information . Perhaps your safest option at this time is to respond, “I would like to speak to a lawyer before I answer any questions.”

Some of the tests commonly administered as part of the field sobriety tests have little or no actual scientific ability to predict legal intoxication. During a DUI stop, a law enforcement officer may ask you to take tests such as the finger-to-nose test, the finger-count test, and / or the standing balance test. These tests are not conclusive. However, there are some tests that have been proven to be accurate predictors of intoxication: the One Leg Stand, the Heel-to-Toe, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN – following a penlight, pencil or finger with your eyes).

While you can refuse to take these tests, doing so will force the law enforcement officer to make a judgment about whether or not you are intoxicated. If he or she believes you may be legally drunk, the officer can ask you to submit to a Portable Breath Test (PBT). This test is not admissible in court, so you may refuse to take the test. Most officers will not inform you that you have a choice to take the test or not – but refusal will probably result in an arrest.

Our Snohomish County DUI attorneys caution you to be aware of the difference between the PBT and the test administered at the police station (called DataMaster). If you refuse to take the DataMaster test, you will face an automatic revocation of your driver’s license for at least one year.

3. What should I do if I’m stopped for DUI?

Above all else, remain calm and be polite. Our experienced DUI attorneys at the Law Office of Mark W. Garka, PLLC recommend the following steps for a DUI stop:

  • Do not answer any questions other than your name and address. The more you talk, the greater the chance you have of saying something that will later be used against you.
  • Be polite. Officers are used to dealing with bad attitudes and you will only antagonize them is you behave indignantly or belligerently. Produce requested documents, which will typically include your license, insurance, and registration.
  • Do not agree to perform roadside tests. These are voluntary, and are not required!
  • Do not agree to have your eyes tested. This is a test, and again it is voluntary, so don’t feel intimidated to comply.
  • Do not agree to blow into a handheld breath tester. While an officer may try to convince you that refusing the portable breath test device will result in the loss of your driver's license, this is misleading. You will not lose your driver's license if you refuse the portable breath test in Washington State. However, you may lose your driver’s license if you refuse a breath test at the station.
  • Do consent to a breath or blood test at the station, if you are asked to take one. However, if at all possible, ask to speak with an attorney first. Our DUI attorney is on-call 24 hours a day.

4. What protocol do the police have to follow during a DUI stop?

If an officer stops your car with the suspicion that you are driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, there are a number of protocols that the officer must follow.

The officer should inform you of the implied consent law, ask if you have consumed any drugs or alcohol, request that you take a field sobriety test, and request that you take a breath or blood test to determine your blood alcohol content(BAC). As any Washington State DUI lawyer will tell you, the implied consent law basically states that if you get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle in the state of Washington, you agree to take a blood or breath test to determine your BAC if a law enforcement officer believes you have been driving under the influence.

A field sobriety test may be recorded by the officer and although they are not always a reliable indicator of the presence of alcohol or drugs, an officer can use the failure of a field sobriety test as probable cause to administer a breath or blood test. Washington’s field sobriety test can consist of any of the following: reciting the alphabet backwards; counting backwards, often from 53-36; finger to nose; finger dexterity; and/or the Rhomberg balance test.

In Washington State, there is also no legal recourse if a suspect refuses to take a field sobriety test, although an officer can still enforce the implied consent law and require a suspect to take a breath or blood test. You should notify your legal counsel if you were not instructed properly on the requirements of the tasks you were asked to complete or if you were not advised that you could refuse to take the field sobriety tests.

5. What if the officer did not read my Miranda rights?

At the time of the arrest, the law enforcement officer should have advised you of your Miranda rights. The original Miranda rights were designed to ensure citizens were aware of their right to have an attorney present before being questioned by law enforcement. In Washington State, the standard Miranda rights have been expanded and further defined. At the time of a DUI in Everett, the officer must advise you of your Miranda rights – even before questioning.

Many people assume that if the law enforcement officer does not read you the Miranda rights during your DUI arrest, it will result in the dismissal of all charges. This is actually incorrect. Any statements you made cannot be used in prosecution, but the charges will still stand. Regardless of whether the officer advises you of your Miranda rights, you should immediately contact the Law Office of Mark W. Garka, PLLC.

Unfortunately, many people believe that if they waive their rights and cooperate with the officer by answering questions, it will help their case. Our Snohomish County DUI lawyers recommend that you respectfully reply to questions: “I’d like to speak to a lawyer before I answer any questions.” While you may believe you are being helpful, innocent statements are often taken out of context by law enforcement and may in fact, harm your defense.

6. What do I need to know after being arrested for DUI?

Were you recently stopped for a DUI or DWI in Washington State? If so, you probably have a lot of questions – beginning with, why do you have a hole punched in your driver’s license and what does it mean?

The law enforcement officer may have punched a hole in your license because he or she has already reported your arrest for DUI / DWI to the Washington State Department of Licensing. The Department of Licensing will respond by suspending or revoking your driver’s license – even if you are ultimately found innocent of the DUI charge.

Punching a hole in your driver’s license means it will expire 60 days from the date of your arrest. After this time, the Department of Licensing will move to revoke or suspend your driver’s license based on the report of the arresting officer. Our DWI lawyers in Washington State work to help you keep your driving privileges.

If you took a breath test and the reading was a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher, your driver’s license will be suspended – from 90 days to 2 years, depending on your record. The same is true if you refused to take the breath test – refusal is considered guilt. Our firm recommends taking the breath test. We have experience questioning the results of the breath test and working to get the charges reduced.

It’s crucial that you defend yourself against your DUI charge. The first step is filing the form that indicates you seek a hearing from the Department of Defense. This form should have been given to you by your arresting officer, although your DUI attorney will have copies of the form and help you complete it and send it in.

If you miss the deadline, you lose your opportunity to fight to save your driver’s license. Few people can afford to lose their driver’s license – make sure you contact the Law Office of Mark W. Garka, PLLC.

7. What will happen after a DUI arrest?

If you’ve been charged with drunk driving, you should contact a Washington State DUI attorney immediately. DUI lawyers are well versed in the law and they’ll be able to tell you what your rights are, what sort of penalties you can expect, and help you retain your driver’s license.

The first thing that you should do to protect your right to drive is request a hearing with The Department of Licensing; your DUI attorney can help you with the filing of this request. You should be assured of at least 60 days of driving from the date of arrest.

Next will be the arraignment. The date of your arraignment may be on your ticket. It is mandatory that you appear in court for the arraignment and it is a mistake to appear without a DUI lawyer there to protect your interests, advise you, and explain the Washington State DUI process.

During the arraignment, you will be given the chance to state whether you are guilty or not guilty to your DUI charge. Your attorney will be able to advise you on the best plea to make, depending on your personal situation. Sometimes the stop was not made properly by the arresting officer, or proper procedures were not followed once you arrived at the station.

Your DUI lawyer will likely meet with the State Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in a pre-trial conference to review the evidence and possibly even negotiate a plea bargain. Following the hearing, your attorney may file motions to suppress any evidence where your constitutional rights have been violated or proper process was not followed during your DUI arrest.

8. Will I be stranded if I’m arrested for DUI?

Being arrested for DUI physical control comes with severe consequences, regardless of whether you have actually been convicted. Another punishment that has been added to the list is a mandatory 12-hour impoundment of your car at the owner’s expense. The only exceptions to this rule are if the vehicle is a commercial vehicle, a farm transport vehicle, or the owner of the vehicle was not present at the time of the stop.

The vehicle must be impounded for at least 12 hours unless there are 2 or more registered owners or the legal owner was not there at the time of arrest, but only after it arrives at the impound yard. Instead of being able to obtain the vehicle before it is impounded, it has to be transported to the impound yard by a tow company, which means more time and plenty of fees before being able to get your vehicle.

Once the officer has waited for 30 minutes and made sure the car is locked, they can leave the car with a tow slip and be on their way. What happens if all of your stuff gets stolen? Many people keep valuable items inside their car, especially if they work out of their vehicle. This should make you think twice about driving under the influence of marijuana or alcohol.

Because many commercial vehicles are owned by a company and not the drivers, the law attempts to give them time to take possession of the vehicle. There is, however, one problem. The statute says “owner,” but does not authorize the owner to have anyone else pick up the vehicle. Consider, for a moment, the owner of a trucking company in one state trying to obtain possession of his vehicle in a state thousands of miles away.

If you are the owner of the vehicle, regardless of who is driving or if anyone is ever convicted, it is safe to say that you will be paying tow fees and any fees associated with your travel. This can end up being very expensive. Driving under the influence of marijuana or alcohol can be costly. If you have been arrested for DUI physical control, contact our legal team today.

Contact the Law Office of Mark W. Garka, PLLC

There are many things that will happen after a DUI arrest. Hiring a good Snohomish County DUI lawyer will be your first step in protecting yourself and your rights during the process. Call our firm today to request a complimentary consultation!

Serving The State of Washington