Driving under the influence occurs, of course, when someone is 1) driving and 2) under the influence (of either alcohol or drugs). So, if you are pulled over in the state of Washington and are considered impaired by either substance, you should be expected to be charged with driving under the influence (DUI). But what might come as a surprise is that you don't actually need to be driving to be arrested for a DUI. If you get behind the wheel and begin driving after having a few drinks but then have second thoughts and pull over, you can still be arrested and charged with driving under the influence -- even if your car is turned off. This year, legislators came close but failed to make the law more napper-friendly with a bill that allowed drivers who take the keys out of the ignition and move out of the driver's seat to be exempt from DUI charges. But legislators could not come to an agreement and the measure died.
Under Washington state law, you could be charged with a DUI if you are in physical control of a vehicle and have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher or a THC (marijuana) concentration of 5 nanograms or higher, or are impaired to "any appreciable degree" by alcohol, drugs or a combination of both. This includes legal drugs and legally prescribed medications. Because you are considered in physical control of the vehicle even if you are in a parking lot with the car turned off, you could be arrested for driving under the influence, despite the fact that you were sleeping it off. As with any DUI charge, the penalties can be serious. The charge is considered a gross misdemeanor, and a conviction will result in license suspension for 90 days to a year, up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. However, if you have four prior DUI convictions within the last 10 years, caused serious bodily harm or death to someone, or were ever convicted of vehicular assault or homicide, the charge is considered a class C felony DUI, which could result in prison time, higher fines and a longer license suspension. If you are arrested for a DUI, your license will be automatically suspended for 90 days. You have seven days to ask for a hearing, during which time you may drive. If you miss that window, your license will be suspended at least until your hearing -- and longer if convicted.
This is just one reason why it is critical to get help from a criminal defense attorney immediately after an arrest. Your attorney should have vast experience defending clients facing DUI charges and be willing to aggressively pursue the potential defenses in DUI cases.
If you have been charged with a DUI, Peale Law Firm in Seattle, Washington will protect your rights and mount a vigorous defense. Our office represents clients in Seattle and throughout Washington. For a free consultation, call us at (206) 429-4777 or contact us online.