In Washington, DUI convictions are considered to be gross misdemeanors; however, if you cause an accident or injure someone other than yourself, you may be charged with a Felony DUI. A reputable attorney can help to clarify the charges against you, explain any penalties, and possibly get the charges reduced so that you will not have a criminal record. Consequences of a DUI conviction in Washington may include fines, jail sentences, and license suspension, as well as referral to a substance abuse program for educational classes and another treatment
The length and severity of the punishment depends on several factors including whether or not it is a first time offense, if you are below the age of 21, and the amount of alcohol present in your blood (BAC). For a first time offense, you can be charged with a fine and fees ranging from $940 to $5,000, license suspension for a minimum of 90 days, as well as between 1 and 364 days of jail time. Subsequent convictions lead to even stiffer penalties, with increased fines and jail sentences. Refusing to submit to a breath or blood test at the time of your arrest can result in automatic suspension of your license for an entire year. It is a good idea to speak with your criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest to discuss your options.
You are permitted to request an administrative hearing with the Washington State Department of Licensing within 20 days of your arrest. Your attorney should represent you at this hearing, as the outcome is crucial and can delay or even halt the suspension of your license until you are convicted in court.
After the administrative hearing, the next step is a court appearance. An attorney's presence is crucial, as he or she may be able to get the charges reduced to reckless driving or negligent driving. Even if convicted of a DUI, your attorney will fight to get you the minimum penalties allowable by the law. Your lawyer can also provide information about Washington's Deferred Prosecution Program, and whether it would be beneficial in your particular case. This program allows you to defer your DUI charge for five years while you attend treatment for substance abuse. If you successfully complete the program and remain sober, the DUI charges will be dropped. However, the program is not recommended for everyone, as it still counts as a prior offense if you are ever accused of another DUI.
A DUI is a serious charge that should not be taken lightly. It could potentially wreak havoc on current and future employment prospects, result in loss of driving privileges, and incur financial hardship, due to fines, significantly increased car insurance rates, and the mandatory installation and maintenance of an ignition interlock device for your vehicle, for a set period of time after your license is reinstated. These consequences can be reduced, if not entirely eliminated with the help of an experienced Seattle DUI attorney.
Our experienced Seattle DUI attorneys provide DUI defense for individuals arrested for DUI in Seattle, Tacoma, Federal Way, Kent, Redmond, Bremerton, Poulsbo, Lynnwood, Everett, Marysville, Bothell, Sammamish, Renton, Burien, Monroe, Issaquah, Lakewood, Puyallup, Port Orchard, Pierce County, Snohomish County and Thurston County.