Although no results can ever be guaranteed, a good DUI attorney should be able to prevent a conviction or negotiate a less serious charge in the majority of their cases.
Common Mistakes Police make during a DUI Arrest
You may have been arrested as a result of a DUI emphasis patrol by a Seattle Police Officer, King County Sheriff, or a Washington State Trooper. Unfortunately, emphasis patrols have resulted in a questionable quota system where officers are pressured to make a certain amount of arrests per hour.
We have seen an increasing number of cases where our clients’ civil rights are being violated by unlawful police investigations. Common mistakes that law enforcement makes include:
- An arrest without adequate probable cause
- Failing to notify suspects that field sobriety tests are optional
- Not reading Miranda Rights early enough in the investigation
- Arrest reports that conflict with police video surveillance
Driver’s License Status
After an arrest for DUI, the police report goes to the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL). The DOL will then issue an automatic driver’s license suspension that goes into effect 60 days after the arrest date. Within the 60 day time period, you can still drive with your temporary (hole punched) license.
There is one way to prevent your license from automatically suspending. You or your attorney must:
- Request a DUI hearing within 20 days of your arrest
- Win the hearing
- Avoid a DUI conviction in the criminal case
The DUI hearing only addresses the issue of your driver’s license and does not impact your criminal case.
We understand that the criminal justice process is frightening for most people. Lawmakers in our state have made DUI the most serious non felony charge. Unlike other misdemeanor charges, a DUI conviction in Washington State can never be sealed, vacated, or expunged.
A first or second DUI is normally a gross misdemeanor, which means that a conviction will result in a mandatory minimum sentence of 1-2 days in jail or 15-30 days of electronic home monitoring. A judge can order up to 364 days of jail, but a maximum sentence is highly unlikely for a first DUI.
DUI consequences normally include:
- Jail time of 1-364 days or electronic home monitoring
- License suspension from 90 days to 2 years (first offense)
- Fines ranging from $940.50 to $5,000
- Ignition interlock device requirement
- High risk insurance (SR-22)
- Alcohol and/or drug treatment
Preventing a Conviction
Even if there is no evidence of a police mistake, results from breath tests, field sobriety tests, and blood draws are not 100% accurate. A good DUI lawyer should understand the weaknesses of each testing method, so that an effective defense can be launched.
For example, even a properly calibrated breath test machine can give an inflated result if you have acid reflux or another medical condition that elevates your mouth alcohol level. In addition, many individuals who are not impaired fail field sobriety testing due to the awkward nature of the testing procedures and confusion over law enforcements instructions.
There are many protocols that law enforcement is required to follow during a DUI stop and any questionable behavior by the officer can be used to weaken the state’s case against you. At Beckwith Criminal Law, we are able to prevent a DUI conviction over 95% of the time for first time DUI arrests. If this is your second or third DUI, we can often times negotiate a result that is less serious than the original charge.
We have a proven track record in the courts of King County, Snohomish County and Pierce County, including the city courts of Seattle, Bellevue, and Everett. Please call us today for a free consultation.