Alcohol DUI’s: The Basic Issues

This Legal Guide summarizes the basic issues involved in alcohol-related DUI arrests and investigations. It discusses arrests, investigations and the Department of Licensing (DOL). This guide is educational and not intended to give legal advice. For more information please consult an attorney.

OVERVIEW

DUI litigation is essentially fought in two battlegrounds: (1) license suspension proceedings brought by the Department of Licensing (DOL) and (2) criminal charges initiated from the Prosecutor. You need an attorney who can maneuver both venues aggressively and not just one aspect of the case.

DOL

If the police officer punched a hole in your driver’s license and provided a slip of paper regarding a license suspension, it means the State Department of Licensing (DOL) shall try suspending or revoking your license. If you value your driver’s license, then the DOL suspensions/revocations should always be challenged. Under statute, defendants have a very short window of time – a mere 20 days from the DUI incident – to challenge the automatic license suspension. In deciding whether to suspend or revoke your license, the DOL Hearing Examiner must analyze four issues: (1) Whether your vehicle was legally stopped; (2) Whether there were reasonable grounds to believe you were DUI; (3) Whether you were informed of your implied consent warnings properly; and (4) Whether you either refused the breath test or blew over the legal limit. Fortunately, the DOL cannot suspend or revoke someone’s license if their constitutional rights are violated, evidence is lacking, the BAC machine was malfunctioned, or police officers either were not certified to operate the BAC machine and/or they failed to follow proper procedure.

CRIMINAL CHARGES

Under RCW 46.61.502, DUI’s are gross misdemeanors punishable up to a year in jail and a $5,000.00 fine. Additional consequences include alcohol evaluations, follow-up treatment, probation, mandatory ignition interlock device, lack of access to Canada, and fines from around $1,000.00 to $5,000.00. Fortunately, many consequences are negotiable, and can be modified to your benefit with the assistance of an experienced attorney. Every case is factually different. Outcomes vary. There are always mitigating and aggravating factors. However, in most cases attorney Alexander F. Ransom obtains favorable reductions of charges (plea bargains) to lesser offenses that don’t have quite the onerous consequences of a DUI. We always strive to obtain dismissals whenever possible. Grounds for dismissal include proving the initial stop was unconstitutional, was unsupported by probable cause, or that the officers have no basis to believe you were driving unlawfully. These arguments can be made at pretrial motions. Again, in order to obtain more information about your charge and the potential consequences, and to see what services we can provide for you, it is in your best interest to contact the Law Office of Alexander F. Ransom.

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