For several years, awareness organizations, law enforcement officials and lawmakers in Washington State have been trying to reduce the number of DUI-related deaths, damages and injuries in the state. Under state law, a person can be charged with DUI even if their driving has been only minimally affected by drugs or alcohol, and driving under the influence of drugs does include prescription medications that your doctor gave you if those medicines impact your ability to drive.
Being arrested for DUI can lead to serious fines and mandatory jail time in Washington. Even if you don’t receive a criminal conviction, you can lose your right to drive and have your driver’s license restricted by the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL), which is why it’s so important to contract a defense lawyer if you’ve been charged
When You Can Be Charged with DUI
In Washington, you can be charged with DUI if your driving was impacted by drugs and/or alcohol. You can also be charged if you have 5 nanograms or more of THC and/or a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more if you are least 21 years old. For those under 21, a DUI charge applies at a BAC of .02 percent or more. Finally, for those driving a commercial vehicle, you can be facing a DUI with a BAC of at least 0.04 percent.
New DOL Changes Affecting Those Facing a DUI
Once you are arrested for a DUI offense, the DOL can deny, revoke or suspend your privilege to drive. With new DOL regulations taking effect in 2019, it’s now more important than ever to contract a defense attorney if you’ve been charged.
The changes that the DOL has implemented will impact people charged with DUI on multiple levels, and they took effect on January 1, 2019 as outlined below:
- 7-day hearing request deadline: When you are charged with DUI, you will lose your right to drive completely unless you request a hearing with the DOL. Previously, you had 20 days to request this hearing after your arrest regardless of the case. Now, you may only have seven days if you had a blood test performed and received your results by mail.
- The fee for the hearing application is still $375, unless you are unable to pay and are eligible for a waiver.
The hearing will be held within 30 days of your arrest regardless of your case. If you don’t ask for a hearing, your license will be suspended on day 30. You will only receive your hearing notice five days before it will be held, so make sure that the department has the right address on file so you don’t miss any notices or important hearings in your case.
Don’t Wait to Get Help
DUI conviction penalties in Washington vary because they are influenced by your criminal record and the specifics of your case. When you are arrested and convicted of DUI, it can have a negative impact on your job, career, ability to drive, personal life and ability to travel outside of the country. Fortunately, you can defend yourself against these charges, negotiate for a reduction, or even agree to a treatment program to avoid all the penalties you are facing when you engage the services of a skilled defense lawyer.
It’s important to note that just about anyone who is charged with DUI will undergo a drug and/or alcohol evaluation in this state, with rare exceptions. Even if you don’t believe you need treatment and this was just a one-time mistake, you must do what the court tells you to do, and this may include evaluations and treatment programs. If you fail to follow court orders, you will find yourself facing tougher penalties. Your attorney will help ensure that you complete what the court requests via qualified providers.
Once you are arrested for DUI, time becomes of the essence. Speak to an experienced DUI defense firm so you have all the information you need to make informed choices and the help you’ll rely on while your case goes through the court system.