The Washington State Traffic Safety Commission has announced extra Driving Under the Influence (DUI) patrols starting in August and running through Labor Day Weekend (see link at the end of this post). This can be an especially dangerous time on the roadways around Spokane as many people are taking road trips over the long holiday weekend and before school starts in September. Anything that impairs or distracts a driver, like alcohol, drugs, cell phones or sleep deprivation, can have terrible consequences!
When a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrest occurs in Washington State the government does not immediately take away someone's driver's license. The key word is "immediately." Many people think they lose their license at the time they are arrested for a DUI. This is incorrect. There may be a suspension some time after the DUI arrest, but it is not immediate or even the next day.
Most people arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Spokane County or within Washington State will be asked to submit to a test of their breath to determine their breath alcohol content (BAC). Specifically, law enforcement will ask for a breath test at the police station and the driver will have to choose whether to blow on the government's machine or refuse the breath test.
Consumption After Driving is actually part of the Washington State Driving Under the Influence statute. Most DUI investigations begin the same way: law enforcement observes a moving vehicle commit a traffic violation, they stop the vehicle and eventually arrest the driver for DUI. The legal concept of consumption after driving recognizes there are occasions where law enforcement suspects someone drove, but they didn't observe them behind the wheel. There may be a gap in time between the driving and law enforcement contact and during that gap the driver may have consumed alcohol.
Every arrest for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Washington State carries the potential for license suspension/revocation. Suspensions or revocations can occur based upon convictions in court or even through a separate administrative process within the Department of Licensing (DOL). When a driver has been suspended or revoked due to a DUI conviction or the separate administrative process the DOL can issue an Ignition Interlock License (IIL). Having the Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed in a car is not the same as DOL issuing an IIL. Before taking any action toward obtaining an IIL it is important to determine eligibility and to verify any possible restrictions by contacting DOL at 360-902-3900.
During a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrest in Washington State most people will be asked to submit to a breath test for alcohol. However, if the investigating officer suspects impairment from drugs - prescription or non-prescription, then the officer may try to obtain a warrant signed by a judge authorizing a blood draw to determine intoxication. This process used to take several hours, but it has been streamlined over the past decade. Today law enforcement can email warrant requests to judges who can electronically review and sign them. Once a signed warrant is emailed back to the officer virtually anyone with the appropriate medical training can draw the blood. The whole process can take less than 30 minutes.
In Spokane, Washington the criminal case for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) normally begins the next business day after the arrest. The initial court appearance for a DUI charge is a First Appearance Hearing. This hearing begins with roll call to see who is present. The judge will then advise everyone of their constitutional rights and the potential consequences of a DUI conviction. These consequences may include jail time, house arrest, fines, loss of driver's license, ignition interlock device, SR-22 insurance and alcohol/drug treatment.
Under Washington State criminal law Pretrial Conditions of Release (COR's) are legal restrictions ordered by a judge after someone has been accused of a crime, like Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Domestic Violence Assault (DV). Most people accused of a crime do not sit in jail while their criminal matter is pending resolution. On those cases COR's act like laws restricting the defendant's behavior while the case is pending. COR's remain in effect unless a judge amends or cancels them or until the criminal charge is resolved. If the COR's are violated, defendants may face more strict conditions or may even be booked into jail until the case is resolved.
Christmas and New Years are supposed to be times for celebration. Many of us take time off from work to travel and visit family, reflect on the past year and prepare our resolutions for next year. In Spokane County and throughout the State of Washington, this can also be a dangerous time to be on the roadways. Although this year DUI arrests during Christmas through New Year's Day appear to be lower relative to prior years, the holiday season is typically a busy time for law enforcement officers who are trying to keep our roads safe from impaired drivers.
If you're pulled over for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs in Spokane County or anywhere in Washington State, then the officer will likely ask you to perform roadside tests called Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST's). These include a test of your eyes (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus or HGN), and two agility tests like walking heel to toe (Walk and Turn or W+T) and balancing on one leg (One Leg Stand or OLS). You may also be asked to blow into a handheld breath alcohol test called a Portable or Preliminary Breath Test (PBT). The Washington State Patrol website has many DUI training manuals including a recent manual regarding FST's.