In Washington State, one-third of traffic fatalities are caused by alcohol-impaired driving, which is significantly higher than the national average of 28 percent. As a result, prosecuting these infractions has become top priority for the state’s justice system. Our DUI lawyer in Port Orchard explains what conditions may lead to a charge of driving under the influence.
What Constitutes a DUI Under Washington State Law?
When it comes to prosecuting someone for driving under the influence, the state has two primary methods available to make their case.
• The most commonly-used and widely-known basis for a DUI charge is measurement of blood alcohol concentration within two hours of driving. Thresholds are .08 and higher for ages 21 and up, .02 and higher for minors, and .04 and higher for commercial vehicle drivers. While submitting to a request for a breathalyzer test is mandatory for anyone legally arrested for a DUI, drivers may refuse a field sobriety test. Keep in mind that this will not prevent police from arresting you.
The Senate in Washington is currently reviewing changes to the DUI threshold. Under consideration is lowering .08 to .06 for a DUI. This legislation has not passed as of yet but may be coming.
• If specific measurements are not available, such as in the case of a breathalyzer malfunction, the state may still proceed with a DUI charge. In such instances, this means proving that a defendant was “appreciably affected” by alcohol or drugs before getting behind the wheel. Prescription drugs are considered to cause impairment, even if they are legally administered by a doctor. As of August 1, 2012, Washington State law also defines drugs as “any chemical inhaled or ingested for intoxicating or hallucinatory effects.”
Defending Against a DUI
If you are charged with a DUI based on a breathalyzer reading, there is an affirmative defense. Your DUI lawyer in Port Orchard can demonstrate, by a preponderance of the evidence, that alcohol was consumed after the time of driving. Other common arguments include challenging probable cause for the police officer to pull you over and failure to issue a Miranda warning.