A DUI will cost you a lot of money. In Washington, a DUI is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. If convicted, a person suffers consequences such as, driver’s license suspension, commercial driver’s license suspension or revocation, fines and fees, probation, and possibly jail. People ask our skilled team of attorneys all the time what to do if they are pulled over after having consumed alcohol and here are the answers!
First, do not be suspicious! The officer is paying attention to your every move, so throwing a bottle in the backseat, or placing a cup under the seat is going to draw attention to your level of intoxication. The officer will approach your vehicle via the driver or the passenger side of the vehicle, and rolling your window down is appropriate. The officer should advise you of the reason for the stop and ask for your license, registration, and insurance. The officer is paying attention to your speech and movements, so he will be looking to see if you have slurred or slowed speech, or if your movements are fumbled and deliberate. The officer will also look at your eyes to see if you appear to be intoxicated. At this point, the officer will likely begin questioning you about your activities that evening and your answers could be incriminating.
Second, always ask for a lawyer! If the officer asks you where you’ve been that evening or how much alcohol you’ve had to drink, always ask for a lawyer! Everyone has a right to counsel, especially those being investigated and accused of crimes such as, driving under the influence. It is very important to talk to anyone representing the State (officers or prosecutors) through your lawyers. If you feel uncomfortable answering a question, ask for a lawyer! The officer has a duty to provide you with the opportunity to talk to a lawyer and should cease asking you questions once you have asked for a lawyer.
Third, refuse the voluntary field sobriety tests! The officer may then ask you to perform voluntary field sobriety tests. These tests are voluntary, so you do not have to perform them. You can say no. These tests are used to build a case against you and will be admissible in court. You will not pass the field sobriety tests, so even if you are confident in your ability to pass them, do not attempt the field sobriety tests. Officers will sometimes tell you that they just want to check to make sure you’re okay to drive. Do not fall for it – you will fail the tests and you will likely be arrested. If you refuse the field sobriety tests, you may still be arrested for driving under the influence, but the State will have less evidence to prosecute.
Fourth, refuse the preliminary breath test! The officer may then ask you for a preliminary breath sample. This is also voluntary. You can say no. Again, the officer is only trying to build a case against you. If you are confident you will blow under a .08 you should still refuse the preliminary breath test. You can be arrested for driving under the influence even if your breath alcohol content is under .08. If you say no to the breath test, you may still be arrested for driving under the influence. The preliminary breath test does not replace the breath test at the station.
Fifth, minimize the evidence against you! If you are arrested for driving under the influence, ask for an attorney immediately. Even if it is 4 a.m., you can speak with an attorney. There is likely a public defender on call and if you have asked for an attorney, the officer has a duty to put you in touch with one once you get to the station. No further questioning should occur once you have requested an attorney, but you must cooperate with the officer. The attorney will likely tell you to cease answering any questions and to blow into the BAC machine when asked to do so by the officer.
Sixth, cooperate with the officer! The officer has complete discretion whether to book you into jail or release you to a sober driver. If you are cooperative and police the better your chances are to sleep in your own bed that night.
Seventh, submit to the breath test at the station! In Washington, if you drive you have consented to provide a breath or blood sample if you are arrested for driving under the influence. If you refuse to submit to this test it can result in a one year license suspension from the Department of Licensing. In criminal court, your refusal is considered evidence that you are guilty of driving under the influence. It is much easier to suppress BAC evidence than to suppress a refusal of the BAC, so always remember to take the test at the station.
Being stopped for a DUI can be very traumatic. This article is meant to help minimize your consequences once you are stopped, but contacting an attorney who specializes in DUIs should be your top priority. Our office specializes in DUIs and we are always available to help guide you through the process.
An Ignition Interlock Driver’s License allows you to drive a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device while your regular license is suspended. An ignition interlock device does not allow the vehicle to be started if it detects alcohol in your system.
To be eligible for an Ignition Interlock License you must have been arrested or convicted of driving under the influence, physical control involving drugs or alcohol, vehicular assault involving drugs or alcohol, or vehicle homicide involving drugs or alcohol. Additionally, your last driver’s license has to have been issued by Washington State or you must be active duty military currently stationed in Washington State. You must also have a Washington State address. Last, your suspension must not include minor in possession, reckless driving, or habitual traffic offender.
Do you drive a work vehicle? Don’t worry! The ignition interlock requirement can be waived if your employer signs the appropriate waiver and declaration.
Always be careful when applying for an ignition interlock license because it can waive your right to contest your license suspension. Contact experienced DUI Attorney, Angela Horwath, so we can help you navigate the Ignition Interlock License process.
Horwath Law is pleased to announce that we are moving to a new location! Construction is underway and our newly renovated office will be complete on December 15th (see a few pictures of the renovation process below). We will remain open throughout the move.
Please visit us at 1115 Tacoma Ave South in downtown Tacoma. Our new office will allow easy access from I5 and I705. We are also a short walk to the Downtown Tacoma Courthouse.
On November 21, 2011, our own, Angela Horwath, will be recognized by Newsweek Magazine for her hard work and dedication to the criminal defense community. Newsweek selected eight leaders across the nation to showcase in the magazine and Horwath is thrilled to receive the honor and recognition, "It's very exciting - I am honored." Horwath dedicates her practice to seeking justice for those accused of driving under the influence, assault, robbery, kidnapping. Growing up in Spokane, Horwath says a lot of things she learned as a young adult have carried over into her work as a criminal defense attorney.
Horwath says, “I learned early on that inherently good people can make bad decisions, that questioning authority and providing a vigorous defense can lead to a just result for someone accused of a crime.” Horwath has never veered away from taking the unpopular side of an argument and has spent her entire career representing defendants accused of crimes ranging from murder to petty theft. It comes as no surprise that Horwath would be recognized by Newsweek for her zealous advocacy for criminal defendants as she is viewed by her peers as being one of the best, young attorneys in the criminal defense community. Attorney Scott Lawrence had this to say about Attorney Horwath, "I had the pleasure of working for the same criminal defense firm as Ms. Horwath several years back. She is very organized and works hard for her clients. Ms. Horwath was a great resource to all of the attorneys in the office because of her weatlh of knowledge. I strongly endorse this attorney.
Horwath is committed to fighting the good fight and enforcing the Constitution for anyone accused of a crime
The Washington State Patrol will be implementing DUI emphasis patrols throughout King County over Halloween weekend. Beginning on Friday, October 28th and continuing through the early morning hours of Sunday, October 30th, additional DUI patrols will be present throughout all of King County. Kent, Washington, will also see additional emphasis patrol starting Saturday, October 29th at 8:00 p.m. through Sunday morning at 4:00 a.m.
WSP has not forgotten those of you Hawk fans; Seattle will have a DUI emphasis patrol in the downtown area during the Seattle Seahawk game on Sunday, October 30th.
On September 15, 2011, the Washington Court of Appeals reversed Gilberto Arreola’s driving under the influence conviction after finding the officer’s traffic stop was pretextual. A pretextual stop occurs when an officer stops a vehicle for a minor traffic infraction when his true motivations are to begin a criminal investigation, as was the case in State v. Arreola, ---P.3d ----, 3, 2011 WL 4090202 Wash.App. Div. 3, (2011). Pretextual stops are prohibited by the Washington Constitution and a competent Washington DUI Lawyer will ensure that your rights were not violated under this new law.
In that case, the officer followed Mr. Arreola for over a half mile because his car fit the description of a car suspected of being driven by a drunk driver. While following Mr. Arreola, the officer noticed the car had a modified muffler, which was in violation of the state vehicle equipment requirements. Although the officer did not see any indication of impaired driving, he pulled over Mr. Arreola and began an investigation for driving under the influence. The Court found that the officer’s primary motivation for pulling over Mr. Arreola was to investigate for driving under the influence, and not for a vehicle equipment violation.
In finding that the officer stopped Mr. Arreola pretextually, it held that “Washingtonians retain their privacy while in [their] automobiles.” Although, an officer can stop a driver for any traffic infraction he observes, the Court noted that nearly “the entire driving population is in violation of some regulation as soon as they get in their cars, or shortly thereafter” and warrantless seizures are not justified in these instances.
The Court in Arreola held that the totality of the circumstances be taken into consideration when determining whether an officer had a pretextual motivation in stopping a vehicle. In almost every driving under the influence stop there is a pretextual reason, or a hypothetically sufficient legal justification, for the stop – whether it be failure to signal, failure to wear a seatbelt, or talking on a cell phone. All of these acts are in violation of the traffic code and all provide officers a hypothetically sufficient legal justification to stop the vehicle. The ruling in Arreola will allow attorneys to force the trial courts to look at the officer’s primary motivation in stopping the vehicle, which will help defendants facing driving under the influence charges prove they were stopped in violation of their constitutional rights.
Arreola is a win for the Tacoma criminal defense legal community and will force officers to justify why the stops are made. Contact Tacoma DUI Attorney, Angela Horwath to see if this new case impacts your DUI charge.