Drunk Driving Arrest Attorney in Washington

Aggressive Advocacy for Drunk Driving Arrest in Washington State

Police officers make the decision to arrest a citizen for a DUI when they believe there is “probable cause” for the arrest. This is a subjective belief on the part of the officer and subject to challenge by the defense. When the legality of a drunk driving arrest is challenged, the burden is on the prosecution to satisfy the judge that there were sufficient facts for the conclusion that the driver was under the influence.

The arrest is usually based upon the officer’s observations of the driver’s operation of their vehicle, the results of field sobriety tests, a portable breath test, and any statements made by the driver. The officer’s general observations of the driver’s demeanor during a field sobriety test including speech, balance, and odor of alcohol are also factored into determining whether probable cause existed.

When Does a Drunk Driving Arrest Occur?

A DUI arrest typically occurs after the officer has seen something that triggers him to make the initial detention of the vehicle. Very often, this is an infraction such as speeding, weaving, or something innocuous such as a burned-out taillight. Significantly, in many cases, an officer will stop a vehicle for a minor traffic infraction at night even if they would not stop a vehicle for the same infraction in the middle of the day. Roadblocks are illegal in Washington State, so at night officers are more aggressive about stopping vehicles for alleged infractions, when the true reason for the stop is to see if the driver has been drinking.

A DUI arrest might also occur when there has been an accident, and the officer smelled alcohol or detected “signs” of intoxication. In most cases, the driver is arrested and handcuffed, then transported in a police car to the station for processing. However, in some cases — particularly those involving an accident where the individual is at the hospital being treated for injuries — that individual might be placed “under arrest” by an officer without ever being handcuffed. Nevertheless, this is still considered an arrest for purposes of the DUI law.

If you were taken to a police station for a breath test, or if an officer requested a blood test or obtained by way of a search warrant, there is a good chance you were arrested for a DUI and criminal charges are pending.

What Happens When You’re Arrested for a DUI?

Once an individual is arrested for a DUI, the Miranda warnings must be read. This is a critical stage of the criminal proceedings — at a time when the officer is clearly in an adversarial position against the driver. At this point, the officer is gathering evidence to use against the driver in court. A driver would be well advised to take advantage of the constitutional rights that are mentioned in the Miranda warnings, in particular the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.

The arrest is usually followed by a breath test, which the driver either submits to or refuses. If a driver over age 21 takes a breath test and the reading is .08 or higher, or if the same driver refuses the test, the officer will report the refusal to the Department of Licensing (DOL). Subsequently, the Department of Licensing will take action to administratively suspend the driver’s license.

Importantly, the date of the arrest is vital since it starts a time clock ticking — it is essential to take timely action in order to have an opportunity for a hearing so you can fight to save your license. You should send your Driver’s Hearing Request to the DOL, or apply online for the hearing, within seven days of arrest. The need to timely request a DOL hearing is one of the reasons why meeting with a knowledgeable DUI attorney immediately following a DUI arrest is in your best interests.

Contact a Skilled Washington DUI Attorney

Regardless of whether you are convicted, being charged with a DUI can adversely affect many aspects of your life. If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, time is of the essence to protect your license, livelihood, and reputation. Offering committed counsel and dedicated advocacy, the Fox Law Firm PLLC has been skillfully fighting DUI charges for clients since 1985. Contact Attorney Jon Fox for a free consultation by calling (425) 274-9190.