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DUI Attorney in Seattle

Experienced Defense Against Drunk Driving Charges in King County

If you are facing a charge for drunk driving in Washington, you must get the representation you need during this time. If you choose to entrust your case with our Seattle DUI lawyer, you can feel confident. Using experience as a former prosecutor, I can prove the faultiness of the breathalyzer test you took or that the police stop that led to your DUI charge was unlawful in the first place.

At Guadagno Law, PLLC, I have successfully handled thousands of criminal cases in Seattle, WA, over the last 17 years, including countless DUI cases. As a result, I can employ various case strategies and tailor them to fit your needs to enhance your likelihood of achieving a favorable outcome.

Are you facing a DUI charge in Washington? Call Guadagno Law, PLLC today at (206) 895-6800 or contact us online to schedule a meeting with our Seattle DUI lawyer!

DUI Laws in Washington State

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in Washington State. It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. Washington has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country, and even a first-time offender can face serious consequences.

One crucial aspect of Washington's DUI laws is the implied consent law. This means that if an officer lawfully arrests you with probable cause to believe that you were driving under the influence, you must submit a breath or blood test to determine your BAC. Refusing to take a test can result in a one-year license suspension, regardless of whether you are ultimately convicted of DUI.

Washington also has a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21. If you are under 21 and have a BAC of 0.02% or higher, you can be charged with DUI.

DUI Penalties in Washington State

The risks and consequences associated with a drunk driving arrest, charge, or conviction could be potentially life-changing.

You could face the following penalties if convicted of drunk driving in Seattle:

  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Driver's license suspension
  • Community service
  • Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)

Administrative Penalties for a DUI

An administrative penalty is imposed by the Washington State Department of Licensing and is triggered by your arrest, even if it does not lead to a conviction. For a first-time offender, administrative penalties could include:

  • A 90-day administrative license suspension if the driver’s BAC is .08% or more
  • One-year administrative license suspension if the driver refuses chemical testing

Additionally, if convicted, a first-time DUI offender will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle for at least one year.

First Time DUI Penalties in Washington State

First-time DUI offenders will also face criminal penalties following a conviction. These penalties include:

  • For motorists with a BAC under .15%: One to 364 days in jail, at least 15 days of electronic home monitoring, or 90 days in a 24/7 sobriety program, in addition to fines and fees up to $5,200 and a 90-day license suspension.
  • For motorists with a BAC of .15% or more: Two to 364 days in jail, at least 30 days of electric home monitoring, or 120 days in a 24/7 sobriety program, in addition to fines and fees up to $5,200 and a one-year license suspension.

Is a DUI a Felony in Washington State?

In Washington State, a DUI charge can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case.

A DUI is typically charged as a misdemeanor offense for a first or second offense within seven years. However, if a person has four or more prior DUI convictions within the past ten years or has been previously convicted of a felony, their current DUI charge will be considered a felony offense.

A DUI can also be charged as a felony offense if it involves aggravating factors, such as:

  • A BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) of 0.15% or higher
  • Reckless driving or excessive speeding
  • Causing an accident that results in severe injury or death
  • Driving with a suspended or revoked license due to a prior DUI conviction

A felony DUI conviction can result in much more severe consequences than a misdemeanor conviction, including longer jail sentences, higher fines, and extended license suspension periods.

Understanding a DUI Driver's License Suspension

DUI is a very serious criminal charge, so it should come as no surprise that a conviction can lead to a suspension of your driving privileges. However, many people need to be made aware of the extent of this suspension and that their license can be suspended even if the charges are dismissed.

If you have been arrested under suspicion of DUI, your driver's license or privilege to obtain a driver's license in WA (if you have an out-of-state license) may get suspended if you don't request your DOL hearing within seven days and don't prevail at your administrative DOL DUI license hearing. As such, our Seattle DUI attorney prepares clients by:

  • Researching the applicable laws
  • Arguing the four issues, and only four issues, that apply
  • Preparing a written brief when beneficial to your case
  • Attempting to reverse the Department of Licensing's revocation of your license

After a DUI arrest, it's vital to act fast. You have seven days starting on the day of your DUI arrest to request a hearing, or else you waive your right to a hearing by the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL). You could automatically lose your license if you waive your right to a DOL hearing. At the DOL hearing, an examiner will examine your case and decide whether or not to uphold the suspension. This is why representation from a Seattle DUI attorney can go a long way in helping the examiner rule in your favor.

Some charge reductions could also come with an administrative suspension. For example, an excellent outcome could be a reckless driving charge, which is a gross misdemeanor. However, even a DUI charge that gets reduced to reckless driving comes with a 30-day license suspension. If you have already lost your license from the administrative action (DOL hearing), you will NOT be re-suspended for 30 days. You will instead get day-for-day credit from the original suspension on the 90-day or 1-year administrative suspension. Depending on whether you had a BAC over .08 and the first offense or refused a breath test, you could get a 1-year suspension.

It's critical to know that arresting officers should provide you with a DOL hearing request form on the day of your DUI arrest, but unfortunately, they don't always do this. Be sure to request the hearing request form from your arresting officer, so you don't risk losing your license. On the hearing request form, the 7-day rule is emphasized in bold letting and reads, "Your request must be postmarked within seven days of the date of arrest, or within seven days of the date the notice was given." If the arresting officer has not given you a DOL DUI hearing request form, or if you have misplaced it since being released from custody, let me know. I can get you another and will not let you forget this important task.

With this in mind, the license suspension penalties for a DUI conviction in Washington State include:

  • First DUI Conviction: Regardless of the outcome of your license hearing, your driving privileges will be suspended if you are convicted of DUI. For a first-time offense, this suspension can last up to a year, and will typically be for 90 days at minimum.
  • Second or Subsequent DUI Conviction: If you are arrested for a second or third DUI in Seattle, the license suspension is just one of many penalties that will become far more serious. For a third DUI conviction, your license can be suspended for up to four years!

Hiring a quality Seattle DUI lawyer is the most important thing you can do to prevent or at least mitigate license suspension. By aggressively defending you against your criminal DUI charges and successfully arguing your administrative suspension by the DOL, I can work to maintain your license free from suspension, get the charges dismissed altogether, or help you plea down to reduced charges. If you are convicted, you may be able to apply for a restricted “Ignition Interlock Driver License,” which allows you to drive a vehicle that has an ignition interlock device installed within.

Field Sobriety Tests in Washington State

The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) is made of 3 individual tests:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test - For this test the officer will observe the eyes of the person in question as they slowly move a pen or stylus back and forth to look for horizontal and vertical clues in each eye that the person has consumed alcohol, suggesting to the officer there is an indication a driver might be impaired. HGN does NOT prove or indicate a driver is impaired, only that the driver may have consumed alcohol.
  • Walk-and-turn test - In this test, the officer instructs the person to take nine steps forward, a series of half turns, and walk nine steps back to the starting position, touching heel-to-toe in a straight line. All of this is required without falling off balance or even raising your arms to maintain balance. Remember: Don’t start until the officer tells you to begin, or that counts as a point against you.
  • One-leg stand test - In this test, the officer instructs the person to stand on one leg and hold it for 30 seconds or until told to put it down. The officer looks for signs of impairment such as swaying, hoping or using their arms to balance.

How a DUI Impact Your Future

A DUI does not only come with possible jail time, fines and fees, license suspension, and other penalties, but it can come with repercussions that can continue to affect you long after you have paid the legal price. If you are convicted of a DUI, you will have a criminal record, which means potential employers might not want to hire you. This is particularly true if you have a commercial driver’s license, which will be revoked, or if you drive a work vehicle that requires your company to provide liability insurance, such as a fleet vehicle, if you are a salesperson or drive for a living. This may be devastating to bus drivers, truck drivers, taxi drivers, and any job that requires one to drive regularly during daily job duties.

If you have a job at the time of your conviction, that employer might not keep you, or you might not be able to remain a student at the university you attend. If you receive scholarship money or plan on applying for financial aid, a DUI could also impact your eligibility for these benefits. You must speak with me, a Seattle DUI lawyer, to fight the possible negative impacts of a conviction.

Contact Our DUI Lawyer in Seattle Today

If you are charged with a DUI in South Carolina, it is important to find a qualified attorney experienced in handling these cases. At my firm, you will work directly with me, a skilled Seattle DUI lawyer who can provide you with exceptional DUI defense at an affordable rate. I am never too busy to give the personalized attention my clients need and deserve. In fact, not only do I respond to all client inquiries within 24 hours, but I also can provide emergency legal counsel around the clock. Regardless of the severity of your case, you must receive proper legal representation and support to ensure that your constitutional rights are respected.

Contact Guadagno Law today to schedule a FREE consultation with our Seattle DUI attorney!

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"When my daughter got into DUI trouble, I was forced to find a defense attorney for her. In the giant 'Lawyer Lotto' game, I was extremely fortunate to have won Albert for the task. Despite my daughter's nearly debilitating fear of the consequences (I wish she'd had these fears BEFORE the DUIs), Albert went out of his way to try to calm her without minimizing the seriousness of the situation. It was clear that Albert's compassion for his clients is a unique treasure in the legal community. Not only that, he was instrumental in negotiating a completely satisfactory outcome to the whole situation."
- Former Client

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