Questions About DUI in Seattle
In Seattle and all around Washington, driving under the influence (DUI) charges are consistently one of the most common reasons why people get arrested and convicted. Despite the prevalence of these types of charges, many people still do not understand basic concepts and regulations regarding DUI laws. In order to help shed some light on the situation, Guadagno Law, PLLC and our team of DUI and criminal defense attorneys in Seattle, WA have compiled a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions about DUIs in Washington.
Of course, if you already know you need our help with a DUI case of your own, please do not hesitate to reach out to us, either calling (206) 895-6800 or contacting us through our online form. We offer free initial consultations for prospective clients.
Frequently Asked Questions About DUIs
If I am convicted of a DUI in Washington, what happens to my driver’s license?
The top FAQ about DUIs has to be what happens to your driver’s license after a conviction. However, the first question should be what happens to your driver’s license after you are arrested? In Washington, just being arrested for a DUI will trigger a driver’s license suspension that will last between 90 days to 2 years unless you take steps to stop it. If you get convicted, a typical suspension is between 90 days and 4 years, depending on how many prior DUIs you have on your driving and criminal record.
How do I stop an automatic suspension of my license after an arrest?
The automatic suspension of your driver’s license will start 60 days after your arrest, whether you have been convicted of a DUI at that point or not. If you want to stop this from happening, you have 20 days since the date of your arrest to request an administrative hearing. The petition to get such a hearing costs $375 and is nonrefundable. During the hearing, you can present an argument to the court why your license should not be automatically suspended.
What are the other punishments for a DUI conviction?
In addition to a lengthy driver’s license suspension, a DUI conviction in Washington could include spending up to a year in jail and a fine up to $5,000. As with the length of your suspension, jail time and fines will increase with multiple DUIs but can still be steep for a first-time DUI. You will also likely need to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on your car.
What is an ignition interlock device (IID)?
Most states make IID installation mandatory for any and all DUI convictions. An IID prevents you from starting the vehicle without first blowing under 0.02% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level – it can be set for an even lesser amount – into a portable breathalyzer. You are also prohibited from driving any car not equipped with an IID. Additionally, you are expected to pay “maintenance” taxes on the IID, which can be around $150 a month but may vary.
What is Washington’s lookback period?
Washington uses a 7-year lookback period when considering the severity of DUI charges. If you are charged for a DUI and you had already been convicted of another within the last 7 years, it will count as a subsequent DUI with escalated penalties.
What is an SR-22 insurance form?
After being convicted of a DUI in Washington, you will most likely need to carry an SR-22 insurance form with you whenever you drive and for at least three years. SR-22 insurance is also called “high risk driver insurance” as it is carried by drivers with histories of reckless or negligent driving. When purchasing SR-22 insurance from your insurer, expect a price hike in your rates. If you get pulled over by a police officer and have a recent DUI conviction on your record, not producing the SR-22 insurance form could lead to more charges or consequences.
What can be done to get back on the road?
In Washington, many drivers can apply for a restricted license under the condition of installing an Ignition Interlock Device or (IID). Drivers need to show proof of SR-22 car insurance, have the device installed in their vehicle, and then apply for a licence with the Department of Licensing. A fee is required, and if the driver is eligible, he or she will receive the license in a few days or up to a week's time. These applications are processed on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Are there different levels of illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC)?
The typical driver in Washington is considered to be illegally driving while intoxicated if their BAC level is recorded at 0.08% or greater. For a minor under the age of 21 who cannot consume alcohol legally in any situation, the BAC level is dropped down to just 0.02%. Lastly, a driver operating a commercial vehicle due to the possession of a commercial driver’s license is illegally intoxicated if they drive with a BAC level of 0.04% or above; commercial vehicles include big rigs, tractors, airplanes, etc.
Can I get a DUI if I wasn’t over the legal limit?
Driving under the influence of alcohol doesn’t inherently mention a certain BAC level, so it is entirely possible for you to get a DUI charge and conviction if you were not over the limit. So long as you had alcohol in your system at the time of your arrest and were found to have been driving recklessly or dangerously, you can get a DUI. In effect, a DUI is less about how much alcohol you have had and more about how big of a danger you are to yourself and others while driving.
If I did not get told a court date after being arrested, are there no charges filed?
Sometimes before you are “free to go” from the station after a DUI arrest, you are not told an exact court date. This does not mean that no charges will be filed against you. If anything, it means that the court system is backed up or the clerk or judge was too busy to get you one that day. You should expect to see a notification soon in the mail. Assume you have charges coming your way and start consulting with our firm today.
Do I need to take a breathalyzer test when pulled over?
You might already know that field sobriety tests are not mandatory when you are pulled over for suspicion of DUI, and you can therefore refuse to take them without immediate legal consequence. Many roadside breathalyzer tests also fit into this category, too, but not all of them. Before you refuse to take a pocket breathalyzer, ask the police officer if it is a mandatory chemical test or if it is an option field sobriety test.
Is a boating under the influence (BUI) charge a real thing?
Yes. With the number of lakes, rivers, and shoreline cities in Washington, boating under the influence charges are not exactly uncommon. BUIs are often held to the same legal standards as a DUI, meaning 0.08% BAC is illegal if you want to control a boat while drinking. However, keep in mind that you can get a DUI while under the limit as long as you are endangering others, and this same loose interpretation of the rules also applies to BUIs.
Can I get a DUI if I am asleep in the back of my car when an officer finds me?
Many people believe that sleeping in the backseat of their vehicle after drinking too much during a night out is the responsible and legally safe thing to do. This is not true. If you are drunk inside your vehicle, you are still considered to be in control of it and can get a “physical control DUI.” Basically, the prosecution can make the argument that you probably had just driven while intoxicated only moments before the officer found you. If you are too drunk to drive home and you know it, find a sober driver to take you home. Some tow truck companies will even give you and your car a ride home.
What are the benefits of hiring a DUI attorney?
Do you need to hire an attorney to fight your DUI charges? No, there is no immediate penalty for trying to represent yourself. But you will be cheating yourself out of significant benefits and advantages that would have been yours if you had hired a professional criminal defense lawyer. Historically, people who retain a DUI attorney have much better chances of getting a much better case result than those who do not. It is also a great relief to know, from the start, that your case is being managed by someone who understands all aspects of the law.
Want to know more about your rights as someone who has been accused of or charged with a DUI in Washington? Get in contact with us today to set up a no-cost, no-obligation case evaluation. You can call (206) 895-6800 for 24/7 emergency service.
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