Washington's DUI/Physical Control Law
DUI/physical control laws in Washington are among the toughest in the nation. You need a lawyer whose practice focuses on DUI defense and who is at the cutting edge of the latest challenges to current law, breath tests, blood tests, and evidentiary issues. Simply put, you need a lawyer board certified in DUI defense.*
A DUI or Physical Control conviction will trigger mandatory jail time, loss of license, up to 5 years of probation, 3 years of high risk insurance, no driving without an Ignition Interlock Device for at least one year, possible electronic home detention, and you will be barred from Canada! Check out the penalty chart on my home page!
To make matters worse, the Department of Licensing will seek to administratively suspend or revoke your license even if you are found innocent of the criminal charges. There are strict time limits (20 days!) in asking for a hearing to contest this DOL action! Check out the DOL section on my home page!
In Washington it is illegal to drive (or be in physical control of a motor vehicle) within 2 hours of a breath or blood alcohol level of 0.08 or greater. RCW 46.61.502; RCW 46.61.504. Even without a breath or blood test, however, it is still a crime to drive (or be in physical control of a motor vehicle) while you ability to drive is ‘appreciably affected' by alcohol or drugs or both. This last standard is obviously very subjective and is open to whatever observations the arresting officer wants to record in his/her report. Thus, it is important to NEVER PERFORM ANY FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS OR THE PORTABABLE BREATH TEST! The prosecutor has the discretion to file DUI charges even if the breath/blood test is below .08 simply based on the field tests. I have defended clients on DUI charges where the breath test has been as low as 0.04!
For drivers under 21, it is illegal to drive within 2 hours of a breath or blood alcohol level of 0.02 or greater. RCW 46.61.503. But the prosecutor has total discretion to charge those under 21 with an adult DUI, even if the breath/blood test is below 0.08.