Seattle DUI Attorneys – (206) 569-8995
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
& Virant, PLLC and our team of Seattle DUI and criminal defense lawyers
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) 569-8995 or contacting us through an
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 around $400 and is nonrefundable.
During the hearing, you can present an argument to the court why your
license should not be automatically suspended.
Why did the police officer hole-punch my driver’s license?
Did the police officer or the clerk at the station take your driver’s
license to a hole-punch after your DUI arrest? This hole signifies to
other law enforcement officers that your license is pending an automatic
suspension. If you are pulled over again for any reason and the officer
sees this hole punch mark, they will run your license through the system
to ensure you are not driving on a suspended license.
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 does a hardship or restricted license do?
After your driver’s license is suspended, you can work with a DUI
attorney to petition for a hardship license. Sometimes called a restricted
license, a hardship license lets you drive to certain locations at certain
times of the day, despite having your license taken away. Generally, hardship
licenses are used to permit you to still go to work, drop off and pick
up your children from school or day care, and make necessary, emergency
trips. The limitations will vary from case to case.
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
a Seattle DUI attorney 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. Refusing
a mandatory chemical test will automatically suspend your license for
2 years with no chance of rebuttal.
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?
need to hire a Seattle DUI 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 our Seattle DUI lawyers today to set up a no-cost, no-obligation
case evaluation. You can call
(206) 569-8995 for 24/7 emergency service.