DUI cases often start as a normal traffic stop for speeding or some other traffic violation. When these stops occur it is important to understand your rights and the consequences of performing or refusing roadside DUI tests. More often than not in Washington State these roadside tests will consist of a test of one's eyes, two agility/balance tests and possibly a roadside breath test.
All adult DUI convictions, including non-felony misdemeanor convictions, in Washington State carry mandatory minimum penalties. These mandatory minimums come from the legislature and generally can be found in the Revised Code of Washington 46.61.5055. When the legislature amends these penalties, the Washington State Court system drafts a quick reference sheet.
Washington State DUI laws have a legal limit for alcohol .08. Over the last 100 years there has been a lot of research linking alcohol consumption to physical and mental impairment. Did you know a few years ago Washington State DUI laws added a legal limit for marijuana intoxication? That limit is 5 ng of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the chemical responsible for most of the impairing effects of marijuana. Compared to alcohol there is significantly less research on the quantity of THC in one's blood that is necessary to impair physical and/or mental functions.
Recently, a Washington State University football player was accused of Baby DUI. It appears he was under 21 years of age and driving in Pullman, Washington with a breath alcohol content of .076. He'll likely have to fight two separate cases: one against the criminal charge in the courtroom and another against the Washington State Department of Licensing to try to save his driver's license.
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.