It’s the night of your brother-in-law’s bachelor party, a girls’ night out, or an evening of wining and dining.
You had a blast in Mount Vernon, walking around South 3rd, Montgomery, West Gates, and Myrtle Streets. You enjoyed spectacular evening views of the Skagit River, and it’s time to head home. You’ll be driving north to Burlington, then over to Anacortes.
It’s late, you’re tired, you had a few drinks, but you feel fine to drive.
Heading south on Route 20, you weave a little bit and drift left of center, then roll through a stop sign. You see the red and blue lights in your rear-view mirror and have that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. You’re getting pulled over.
How much did you have to drink?
Will the officer make you do Field Sobriety Tests?
What should you do if they ask you to take a Breath Test?
Even though you felt fine to drive, there’s a chance you could be charged with a DUI. But by working with a Skagit County DUI lawyer who handles Washington drunk driving charges, you may be able to have the charges reduced, or even have the case thrown out.
The bad news is that Washington has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country.
You can be convicted of Driving Under the Influence (RCW 46.61.502) if:
A Washington DUI is a gross misdemeanor. If you are convicted of a first-time DUI with a BAC of less than .15%, you face penalties of:
First-time offenders are also required to have an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed in their vehicle for at least one year.
If you are convicted and had a person under the age of 16 in the car with you, you will be required to have an IID installed for 18 months. You will also be looking at a higher minimum fine.
The good news is that if this is your first offense, you may be able to have the charges reduced to a lesser offense or even dismissed.
In many cases, as long as there are no aggravating factors and this is your first Washington drunk driving charge, prosecutors in Skagit County, Mt. Vernon, Anacortes, and Burlington will consider amending a first-time DUI charge to a "lesser charge" such as Reckless Driving, Negligent Driving 1st Degree, or Reckless Endangerment. However, their is no guarantee a specific prosecutor will be willing to amend a DUI charge at all. Getting an amendment out of many prosecutors takes a lot of work.
Some of the lesser included offenses that a skilled and experienced Washington DUI defense lawyer might be able negotiate your Washington drunk driving charge down to include:
Keep in mind that each of these will be considered a "prior offense" if you are charged with a DUI at some point in the future.
When a Washington DUI defense lawyer negotiates a plea bargain, you get the benefit of not having a DUI conviction on your record. In the future, if you are asked if you have ever been convicted of a DUI, you can truthfully answer “No.”
In many cases, your Washington DUI defense lawyer can negotiate the fines and penalties with the prosecutor. If your case is amended to one of the crimes listed above, you are not facing any mandatory jail time.
Depending on the specific nature of your Washington drunk driving charge and whether the arresting officer complied with all the formalities for a proper arrest, your DUI defense lawyer may be able to have the charge dismissed completely.
Even if that’s not the case, it is still beneficial to negotiate a plea to a lesser offense. You won’t have a DUI conviction on your record, and you may face lighter penalties than you would for a DUI conviction. Keep in mind that a DUI conviction in Washington will stay on your record for life. One benefit of amending to a lesser offense is that you may be able to have your conviction vacated in the future.
If you or someone you care about is facing Washington drunk driving charges in Skagit County or Island County, including Mount Vernon, Anacortes, Oak Harbor, or Whidbey Island, contact Washington DUI defense lawyer Justin Campbell at the Campbell Law Firm.