If you are arrested for a DUI in Washington State, you need an attorney that knows how to handle all facets of a DUI. You will be faced with the license consequences through Department of Licensing as well as the criminal charges. The consequences of a DUI conviction go far beyond the courtroom and it is imperative that clients charged with DUI have an experienced attorney walking them through all of the aspects of a DUI case. Andrea Kim has handled hundreds of DUIs and in every case has obtained: less jail time; an amendment to a lower charge; entry of a deferred disposition; or taken the case to trial and either received a not guilty verdict or conviction of a lesser charge. 

DUIs are a very unique area of criminal defense because they are scientific and technical. There are also a number of specific steps and actions officers must take and must not take in order to effectuate a valid DUI arrest. The laws and science behind DUIs are changing on a daily basis and it is important that the attorney handling your DUI case be up to speed on those constant changes. Andrea attends multiple DUI specific trainings and seminars every year. She also researches and speaks with experts in the field about the science behind DUIs. You can rest assured that Andrea will be an effective and knowledgeable attorney to represent you against any sort of DUI charge. 

DUI Arrest

There are a dozen things that an officer can do or not do during your initial stop and arrest that can have a profound impact on your case.

The Stop

The officer must have sufficient reason to pull you over in the first place, whether that reason is drunk driving related or not.

Field Sobriety Tests and the Preliminary Breath Test

The officer then has to inform you that you have the right to refuse to participate in the Standard Field Sobriety Tests. The Standard Field Sobriety Tests include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, the Walk and Turn, and the One Leg Stand. An officer may ask you to complete additional standardized tests to determine if you are intoxicated but these three make up the basic tests given in every case. The officer may also bring in a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) to do further tests and evaluations if he or she believes you are under the influence of something other than alcohol.

The officer also has to inform you that you have the right to refuse to submit to the small preliminary breath test (PbT) on scene. The PbT has been deemed so unreliable that it is not admissible in a criminal case except under specific circumstances. Yet an officer is able to use the PbT as a basis to develop probable cause to arrest you for suspicion of Driving Under the Influence. 

Those voluntary tests are used by the officer, in addition to his or her other observations, to develop probable cause to arrest you for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Whether or not you should submit to those tests is something you should discuss with an attorney and Andrea Kim will gladly advise you on that.

Searching the Vehicle and Miranda Rights

Officers are only allowed to search your vehicle under specific circumstances. If you consent to allowing them to search your vehicle, then they do not have to obtain a warrant to do so.

Once you are placed under arrest, an Officer must read you your Miranda Rights before any statements you make can be used against you in the criminal case, with very few exceptions. There is a common misconception that if the officer did not read a person Miranda Rights, that the whole case is dismissed. Unfortunately, the Miranda doctrine is not THAT strong because the remedy is that your statements made after you are put under arrest but before being read your Miranda Rights would not be admissible at trial unless they fall under some other exception. In rare cases, the exclusion of those statements can lead to the Prosecutor having to proceed on lower charges or outright having to dismiss the case but that is not the usual outcome.

The Breath Alcohol Test at the Station

    • The Breath Test at the Station

You will then be taken either to the station to provide a breath sample, or to a hospital to provide a blood sample. If you refuse to provide the breath sample, you will lose your license for a minimum of a year. You have the right to speak with an attorney prior to deciding whether or not to submit to the breath test at the station and you should call ARK Law at any time of the day or night, 7 days a week, to receive advice about that decision given your specific situation. The Breath Test at the station only determines blood alcohol content, it does not test for any other intoxicants in a person's system. In completing the breath test, the officer must abide by many steps and protocols in order for test to be admissible during your criminal case or DOL hearing. The machine that the Breath Test is taken on must also meet a number of standards and qualifications in order for the blood alcohol content to be admissible in the criminal case or DOL hearing. It is important for an attorney to be up to date on the most recent requirements and standards that the officer and machine must abide by for your blood alcohol result to be used against you. Andrea Kim is constantly attending trainings and learning about any updates to the requirements specific to DUI cases. 

    • The Blood Test

If the officer believes that you are under the influence of something other than or in addition to alcohol, he or she will likely proceed with a blood test instead of the Breath Test at the station. Most officers will have to take you to a hospital to have the legal blood draw completed. However, more local police stations are hiring nurses and other staff that are capable of taking a legal blood draw at the station as well. If you refuse to submit to a blood test, the Officer will likely obtain a search warrant to take your blood anyway.

Jail Booking

The officer then may book you into jail until a judge can look at your case, however, it is not typical for a first time DUI charge. You have the right to speak with an attorney during this process and you should do so as soon as the officer gives you the opportunity. Having an attorney that knows the many protocols and procedures the officer must follow during this entire process is imperative because any misstep by the officer can lead to the reduction or dismissal of your DUI charge!

DOL Suspension and Hearing

When a person is arrested for a DUI, even if charges are never filed or they are later dismissed, the Department of Licensing will suspend his or her license for a minimum of 90 days. Each person has the ability to challenge that suspension but you only have 7 days from the date of arrest to request a hearing. Therefore, you need to speak with an attorney to represent you during the hearing as soon as possible after the arrest.

Requesting a hearing costs $375 so some clients would rather just not drive for the suspension period, however, if you are caught driving during the suspension period, then you could be charged with another gross misdemeanor crime of Driving while License Suspended in the Second Degree. Unfortunately, the DOL regularly upholds the suspensions, even with valid factual and legal arguments, BUT the hearing can still be a huge benefit in the criminal case because the officer is required to testify during the telephonic hearing under oath and that testimony can be used against him or her during the criminal trial later on.

There are many things to consider about your own personal circumstances when deciding whether or not you should request a hearing to challenge the DOL suspension and Andrea Kim can help you make that decision.

Criminal Charges

You could be charged with a number of DUI related charges.

  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Physical Control

Driving Under the Influence itself is separated into two categories, one with Blood Alcohol Content above .15 and one below .15 or with no test result. Both of those DUIs carry mandatory jail time, fines, license suspensions, and ignition interlock requirements.

You can also be charged with Physical Control which is the same as a DUI as far as what the prosecutor has to prove and the potential penalties. The only difference is that they don't have to prove that you were driving. People are typically charged with Physical Control when they were found pulled over or asleep in their car, or the prosecutor otherwise can't prove the person was driving.

A person's first 3 DUIs or Physical Control in a 7 year period will be charged as a gross misdemeanor (unless an injury occurred), which simply means the maximum possible penalties are 364 days in jail, a $5,000 fine, and 5 years probation. If anyone was injured during the accident, or the driver has more than 3 DUIs in the previous 7 years, then it could be charged as a Felony with potential prison time and much higher possible fines.

  • Reckless Driving

There are other DUI related charges that are not often charged initially but are often the final charge that clients plead to as a part of a plea deal. Reckless Driving is also a gross misdemeanor but does not carry a mandatory minimum jail or fine amount like a DUI does. Reckless Driving also has a shorter license suspension and probation period

  • Negligent Driving

Negligent Driving in the First Degree is a simple misdemeanor, meaning it has a maximum possible penalty of 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine and only 2 years probation.

Finally, Negligent Driving in the Second Degree is only a traffic infraction which means there is no possibility of jail time but a fine can still be imposed. 

Delays in Filing and Toxicology Results

Currently in Washington State there is a large delay in some jurisdictions for filing DUI charges. There can be months in between the date a person is arrested and the date they are formally charged in Court. However, the prosecutor only has two years to file the charges. The time in between the arrest for DUI and filing of charges is a crucial time to have an attorney represent you. Andrea has been able to negotiate with prosecutors prior to charges every being filed in order to keep charges from being filed all together, and to have lesser charges filed in many cases. There is also a 6 to 9 month or longer delay in the State of Washington toxicology laboratory currently which leads to a delay in getting the blood draw results. This is also a great time to obtain independent testing or push a case to trial before the prosecutors receive those results.