Barbara A. Bowden

Tacoma, WA DUI Attorney

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Tacoma DUI Attorney

An arrest for driving under the influence knows no boundaries of age, sex, race, or economic status.

If you ever find yourself in the unenviable position of being arrested for DUI in the state of Washington, you will likely be frightened, anxious about your future, and possibly even angry, if you feel you were unfairly targeted. While Washington’s DUI laws are not the strictest in the nation, they can be fairly harsh, depending on the circumstances. There were more than 35,000 DUI arrests in Washington in 2015; during the 2016 Fourth of July holiday weekend, 211 people were arrested for Driving Under the Influence.

The state of Washington is determined to get impaired drivers off the road. This means you could get a DUI when using ANY substance (including prescription drugs) which could potentially impair your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Further, you could face serious penalties, even before a DUI conviction—as an example, your driver’s license could be suspended for up to one year just for being charged with DUI in the state. In short, even when a criminal court reduces the criminal charges from a DUI to negligent driving or reckless driving, the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL) will not reduce or change a disqualification, suspension or revocation of your driver’s license.

The Truth is, Anyone can Make a Mistake.

While all adults are aware of the hazards of drinking and driving, any one of us can make a bad decision which can turn our life upside-down. Residents of Lakewood, WA, and Tacoma, WA—and throughout Pierce County—never expect that having one or two drinks at a friend’s birthday party can result in being pulled over by a police officer and charged with DUI.

Whether this is your first DUI, or a second, third, or subsequent, being charged with DUI is an incredibly anxiety-inducing, stressful experience—not to mention the detrimental effects it can have on your life.

Residents of Lakewood, Tacoma, and throughout Pierce County; we are all prone to making a decision that turn our lives in a direction we didn’t expect.

Whether this is your first DUI, or or a second, third, or subsequent, being charged with driving under the influence is beyond confusing and incredibly stressful. If not approached correctly, being charged with a DUI can be detrimental to the life you’ve worked so hard to build.

When you are charged with a DUI, you are at a crossroads. While it seems as if this charge has left you with no options, the truth is, there are many options. This is why it is imperative to have a DUI defense lawyer there with you from day one to explain these options and decipher which path you should go down.

At The Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden, we are known and respected for the manner in which we help those charged with DUI throughout Pierce County. We are fully aware that every client who walks through our door is unique, with a different set of circumstances. We also know how frightening it is to face criminal charges. Because our firm focuses solely on this area of law, we are much better prepared to take on the challenges involved in obtaining the best outcome for our clients.

The attorneys and staff at the Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden are prepared with the knowledge and experience to mount a defense on your behalf. Please contact us immediately so we can effectively represent you on your DUI. Our office is located in Lakewood, Washington.

Probable Cause for Pulling You Over on Suspicion of DUI

Probable cause allows police officers to pull drivers over if they are suspicious that someone is driving under the influence. If you are doing the following, especially between the hours 8 p.m. and 3 a.m. you will most likely raise suspicion of Washington officers:

  • Speeding
  • Weaving
  • Weaving across lane lines
  • Straddling a lane line
  • Swerving
  • Turning with a wide radius
  • Drifting
  • Hitting or coming dangerously close to other cars or objects
  • Stopping problems (too far, too short, or too jerky)
  • Acceleration or deceleration for no apparent reason
  • Varying Speed
  • Slow Speed (10 + mph under the limit)
  • Driving in opposing lanes or wrong way on one-way
  • Slow response to traffic signals
  • Slow or failure to respond to officer’s signals
  • Stopping in lane for no apparent reason
  • Driving without headlights at night
  • Failure to signal or signal inconsistent with action
  • Following too closely
  • Improper or unsafe lane change
  • Illegal or improper turn (too fast, jerky, sharp, etc.)
  • Driving on other than designated roadway
  • Stopping inappropriately in response to officer
  • Inappropriate or unusual behavior (throwing, arguing, etc.)
  • Appearing to be impaired

Driving cautiously and under the speed limit also tips an officer off that you could be driving under the influence, prompting them to pull you over.

When you are pulled over, you will go through the paces, handing them your license and registration. If you are pulled over under suspicion of a DUI, though, you will most likely be asked to undergo field sobriety tests. You will be most likely asked to take a breathalyzer test to measure your BAC. In Washington, the legal limit is:

  • .08 for adults 21 and over
  • .02 for persons under 21
  • .04 for commercial vehicle drivers while driving their commercial vehicle

If your BAC is at or over the legal limit, you can be charged for driving under the influence.

Know that in the state of Washington, it is not mandatory to take the BAC test on the scene. You do not need to consent to field sobriety tests or blood alcohol measuring tests. Learn more about common field sobriety tests.

However, you are required to take a blood alcohol test when you are taken to the station or you can suffer additional licensing consequences, including 1-year license revocation. On the scene, insist that you would like to consult your representation. The sooner you ask for counsel, the better. If you are seeking counsel after being pulled over under suspicion of a DUI, contacting a DUI defense lawyer is in your best interest.

At the Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden, we are your advocates 24/7. When you call us, whether it is from the scene, the police station, or from your home, we will make sure you are getting the advice you need to make the best decisions for you and your case.

Possible Consequences of a DUI in Washington State

Whether it is your first offense, your second, or third, there are consequences that come with being convicted of a DUI in Washington State. If you are sentenced, there could be lofty fines, probation, and jail time involved. Your once spotless record suddenly looks a little bleaker.

Of course, no one is in favor of impaired drivers on the roadways, endangering the lives of others. There are drivers who are not typically irresponsible about drinking and driving yet find themselves facing serious consequences after being arrested for DUI.

Your sentence is dependent on your BAC result or if you refused and whether or not you have a prior offense, amongst other criteria. Some of these sentences can be avoided or reduced with the help of your DUI defense lawyer, especially when it is your first offense.

Every state in the U.S. has set the limit for blood/breath alcohol content (BAC) at 0.08. Washington State enhances the penalties associated with a DUI conviction for those with a BAC higher than 0.15 (or refuse a breath test) as well as for those who have a minor in the car at the time of their arrest and, of course, those who cause an injury, accident, or fatality.

In addition to dealing with the courts, Department of Licensing (DOL) will seek to suspend or revoke your driver’s license if you are arrested and either blow over the legal limit or refuse the breath test at the police station. In order to attempt to avoid this suspension or revocation from the DOL you must mail out $375.00 dollars to the DOL requesting a hearing. This must be done within 20 days of your arrest. With help from a lawyer who has experience with DOL hearings and navigating complex license suspensions, you can take steps to protect your license or regain your ability to drive legally.

The following are the penalties you could face for a first, second, third, and subsequent DUI in the state of Washington:

Learn more about suspended licenses.

First-Time DUI

If your BAC was under .15, the following penalties apply to a first-time DUI in Washington State:

  • From one to 364 days in custody;
  • 15 days of Electronic Home Monitoring (EHM);
  • Fines starting at $991;
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for 90 days;
  • Drug and alcohol assessment with any recommended follow-up treatment;
  • Court-ordered ignition interlock device installation, and
  • Probation

If your BAC was .15 or higher, or you refused a chemical test, the penalties increase to 2-364 days in jail, at least 30 days of EHM and a one-year driver’s license suspension (or two years if you refused a breath test).

Second DUI

If you have one prior conviction for a DUI within the past seven years, or a prior conviction for a criminal offense that started as a DUI, you are now facing a second DUI. Assuming your BAC was lower than .15, you are facing the following penalties if convicted:

  • From 30 days in jail; and
  • Minimum 60 days of Electronic Home Monitoring (EHM);
  • A minimum fine of $1,245.50, up to a maximum of $5,000;
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for two years;
  • Drug and alcohol assessment and any recommended follow-up treatment;
  • Court-ordered ignition interlock device installation for two years;
  • Probation.

A second DUI with a BAC of .15 or higher brings all the same penalties as above, however, the minimum jail time is 45 days, and EHM is 90 days. A driver’s license suspension can be 90 days to two years, rather than two years with a higher BAC.

Third DUI

Should you have two or more DUI convictions within the previous seven years (or two prior offenses that originated as a DUI), you will face a third DUI charge. If your BAC at the time of your arrest was less than .15, you face the following penalties if convicted:

  • From 90 days in jail; and
  • Minimum 120 days of Electronic Home Monitoring (EHM);
  • A minimum fine of $2,095.50;
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for three years (or four years if you refused a breath test);
  • Drug and alcohol assessment and any recommended follow-up treatment;
  • Court-ordered ignition interlock device installation for 3 to 10 years;
  • Probation (likely active).

A third DUI with a BAC of .15 or higher brings all the same penalties as above, however, the jail time is 120 days, and EHM is a minimum of 150 days. A driver’s license suspension will be four years, rather than three years with a higher BAC.

Fourth or Subsequent DUI

The lookback period changes to ten years (rather than seven), when you are facing a fourth or subsequent Washington DUI. In other words, if you have three or more DUI convictions over the prior ten years, you may be charged with a Class B felony, rather than a gross misdemeanor. The penalties include:

  • Up to ten years in prison;
  • A fine as large as $20,000
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for four years;
  • Drug and alcohol assessment with any recommended follow-up treatment;
  • Court-ordered ignition interlock device installation, and
  • Probation.

From the Time You Call Our Office to DUI Trial

The consequences of getting charged with a DUI are intimidating, and the trial process is bewildering. When you are facing the serious criminal charges of driving under the influence and have so many options in front of you, who do you call?

From the time you contact our office, to the moment you say “guilty or not guilty”, and beyond; the Tacoma lawyers at The Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden want to be by your side, defending your rights and finding your most ideal solution.

We want to answer the questions you have about DUI, but most of all, we want to provide you the answers to the questions you might not have even thought of. We know that just because you are charged with a DUI doesn’t mean you are a criminal. Let us help you move past your mistakes and ensure that your rights are protected.

As you can see, the consequences of a DUI conviction are extremely serious. If you are stopped and charged with a Washington State DUI, you must obtain experienced legal assistance as soon as possible. Having a skilled DUI attorney from The Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden by your side immensely increases your chances of a successful outcome. Your DUI attorney may be able to challenge any number of issues regarding your arrest, including whether the officer had probable cause to stop you, whether you were properly informed of the consequences of refusing a BAC test, whether the tests were properly administered if you agreed to a test and the validity of field sobriety tests overall, as well as advise you to request a DOL hearing within a 7 day time frame.

Your DUI lawyer will be able to attend your Administrative Review hearing (which you must request within seven days of your arrest) in order to argue on your behalf that you should be allowed to keep your driving privileges. Remember—just because you are arrested for DUI, does not mean you will be convicted of the offense, particularly if you seek skilled legal representation immediately. Your Lakewood DUI lawyers may be able to have your charges reduced or even dismissed, helping you avoid many of the life-changing penalties associated with a DUI conviction. Let us help you protect your future.

Contact the Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden today.

Additional DUI Resources

Sleep Driving DUI

Prescription Drug DUI