Seattle DUI if Not Drunk?

Most people refer to a violation of the Washington State DUI law as “drunk driving.” Certainly, as any Seattle DUI lawyer will tell you, a person who is drunk and then drives is in violation of the law. However, the law doesn’t actually have the words “drunk driving” anywhere in it. Washington State’s DUI law specifically states:

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 any drug; or (c) While the person is under the combined influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor and any drug.

Thus, a Seattle DUI defendant might not be “drunk” but if the jury believes that the breath test reading was .08 or higher, that person is guilty of violating Washington State’s DUI law. The term “DUI” actually stands for “driving under the influence” and so, although person might not be drunk, if that person is “under the influence of alcohol” while driving, then there is a violation of Washington States drunk driving law.

A Seattle DUI attorney who is truly committed to defending the client will, from time to time, find himself or herself in a jury trial because while many cases settle for reduced charges, not every reduction of charges negotiated from the prosecutor is a good result for the client. (Be sure your attorney takes cases to trial from time to time.) In some cases it is necessary to take the case before a jury if it is to be said that the Seattle DUI attorney is willing to do everything necessary in defense of the client. Here is what the jury will be instructed by the judge as to what it means to violate the Washington State DUI law:

WPIC 92.10 Under the Influence of or Affected by Intoxicating Liquor or Drugs—Definition

“A person is under the influence of or affected by the use of intoxicating liquor if the person's ability to drive a motor vehicle is lessened in any appreciable degree.”

The ultimate question for the jury is whether the suspect in the Seattle DUI arrest had his or her ability to drive in any appreciable degree due to the consumption of alcohol, or whether the breath test was .08 or higher within two hours of driving.

This blog is only the tip of the iceberg considering the complexities of defending a DUI case. Our firm, Fox Bowman Duarte, is committed to succeeding on behalf of those who seek representation for a Washington State DUI charge.