The state of Washington does not take DUI/DWI charges lightly. Drunk drivers are the leading cause of traffic fatalities and injuries.
If you are facing such charges, you could be required to serve jail time, pay steep fines, lose your driver's license, and comply with other burdensome conditions, depending on your criminal history and level of intoxication. In addition, a DUI/DWI conviction will give you a permanent criminal record, potentially jeopardizing future work opportunities and more.
With so much at stake, it's important that you have an experienced lawyer who will work to protect your rights and your record.
We Will Work to Build a Case in Your Defense
At the law office of Charles H. Williams, Attorney and Counselor at Law, P.S., we defend individuals living in and around Seattle and other parts of western Washington, who face DUI/DWI and similar charges.
When we handle your legal matter, you can be assured that we will provide you with all the information you need to decide how to move forward with your case. Once these determinations have been made we will get to work building your defense.
We want to protect your rights as well as help you avoid the penalties resulting from a DUI conviction.
To speak with a Seattle DUI defense lawyer contact the firm online or by calling 206-707-8524 or 800-854-3458.
Elements of a DUI Case
Under Washington law, essentially five elements must be proven by the government (state, county or municipality) to convict you of DUI (see RCW 46.61.502 below):
1. Driving, i.e., controlling the movement of
2. a motor vehicle (except moped, motorized wheel chair, Segway, etc.)
3. within the jurisdictional area of the court (except federal employee on a federal reservation or Indian on an Indian reservation)
4. on a surface accessible to the public
5. under the influence of intoxicating liquor and/or any drug.
This last element, being under the influence, has three variants:
• Per se - having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher within two hours of driving,
• Affected by - being affected by intoxicating liquor or any drug such that the driver's ability to drive is lessened in any appreciable degree, and/or
• Combined influence - being under the combined influence of alcohol and any drug.
A driver is per se "under the influence" if his or her breath or blood test shows an breath or blood alcohol concentration ("BAC") of 0.08 or higher within two hours of driving. This is considered true, as a matter of law, even if his or her driving ability is not appreciably affected.
The per se element of proof is not available to the government prosecutor at trial, however, if the breath or blood sample was taken more than two hours after driving. The prosecution may still use a late sample to prove that the driver was affected by an intoxicant through an estimation technique known as "retrograde extrapolation."
Indeed, even if the BAC result was under 0.08, it may still be used to prove that the driver was affected by an intoxicant.
The fact that a driver was entitled to use a prescription drug that impairs his or her driving is not a defense to DUI.
Evidence Typically Employed to Prove DUI
The evidence employed by the government prosecutor consists of five distinct types:
1. Personal knowledge - a direct observation by any witness of the driver's driving and his or her appearance and behavior at the time of contact.
2. Admission - an incriminating statement made by the driver to any witness.
3. Opinion -
a. by an observing witness of the level of the driver's alcohol influence,
b. by the arresting officer of the driver's field sobriety test performance,
c. by a drug-recognition expert of the driver's drug influence, and
d. by a qualified subject-matter expert of a scientific test result.
4. Test result - a BAC or toxicological result (except portable breath test) obtained in accordance with approved methods and other legal requirements.
5. Physical or documentary evidence - e.g., 911 audio recording; video recording of vehicle stop, arrest and/or BAC test; photographs of persons or vehicles; blood sample; open containers; pills; etc.
The Revised Code of Washington (RCW 46.61.502): Driving Under the Influence
(1) A person is guilty of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug if the person drives a vehicle within this state:
(a) And the person has, within two hours after driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher as shown by analysis of the person's breath or blood made under RCW 46.61.506; or
(b) While the person is under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor or drugs; or
(c) While the person is under the combined influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor and any drug.
(2) The fact that a person charged with a violation of this section is or has been entitled to use a drug under the laws of this state shall not constitute a defense against a charge of violating this section.
(3) It is an affirmative defense to a violation of subsection (1)(a) of this section which the defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant consumed a sufficient quantity of alcohol after the time of driving and before the administration of an analysis of the person's breath or blood to cause the defendant's alcohol concentration to be 0.08 or more within two hours after driving. The court shall not admit evidence of this defense unless the defendant notifies the prosecution prior to the omnibus or pretrial hearing in the case of the defendant's intent to assert the affirmative defense.
(4) Analyses of blood or breath samples obtained more than two hours after the alleged driving may be used as evidence that within two hours of the alleged driving, a person had an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more in violation of subsection (1)(a) of this section, and in any case in which the analysis shows an alcohol concentration above 0.00 may be used as evidence that a person was under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor or any drug in violation of subsection (1)(b) or (c) of this section.
(5) Except as provided in subsection (6) of this section, a violation of this section is a gross misdemeanor.
(6) It is a class C felony punishable under chapter 9.94A RCW, or chapter 13.40 RCW if the person is a juvenile, if:
(a) The person has four or more prior offenses within 10 years as defined in RCW 46.61.5055; or
(b) The person has ever previously been convicted of:
(i) Vehicular homicide while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, RCW 46.61.520(1)(a);
(ii) Vehicular assault while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, RCW 46.61.522(1)(b);
(iii) An out-of-state offense comparable to the offense specified in (b)(i) or (ii) of this subsection; or
(iv) A violation of this subsection (6) or RCW 46.61.504(6).
Contact a Washington Attorney Today
For more information and to speak with an attorney about the details of your case, contact the law office of Charles H. Williams online or by calling 206-707-8524 or 800-854-3458.